U.S. Defense Secretary, Ash Carter, announced that he will send 560 more troops to Iraq to help capture the city of Mosul still held by the Islamic State (IS).
Ash made the statement during a surprise visit to Iraq. Most troops will go to the Qayara air base about 40 miles south of Mosul. The troops include engineers and logistics personnel among other forces. They will help Iraqi forces plan to encircle and in time retake Mosul.Carter said: “These additional US forces will bring unique capabilities to the campaign and provide critical enabler support to Iraqi forces at a key moment in the fight.” Ash was speaking to about 120 troops, members of the 101st airborne division, in a building at the Baghdad airport.
The total number of US troops is now officially listed as 4,647. It comes just three months after Obama's last addition. Obama recently also reneged on his troop-reduction promise in Afghanistan.It is not yet clear when the attack against Mosul will begin. The capture of the Qayara base on Saturday is a key strategic victory in the advance towards Mosul. One potential job of the new troops is to help the Iraqi forces bridge the river into Mosul. Although anonymous US officials said that American advisers were already working with Iraqis at the brigade level they have not yet accompanied them on operations.
Obama has allowed US troops to assist Iraqi forces closer to the front lines. The IS captured Mosul in the summer of 2014 and has used the city as their main Iraq headquarters ever since. As well as Qayara, Iraqi troops have retaken, Ramadi, Fallujah, and a number of other towns en route to Mosul. Carter said: “At every step in this campaign, we have generated and seized additional opportunities to hasten ISIL’s lasting defeat. These additional U.S. forces will bring unique capabilities to the campaign and provide critical enabler support to Iraqi forces at a key moment in the fight.”
While losing territory the IS has turned to terror tactics including a bombing in Baghdad last week that killed almost 300 people the most lethal bombing so far. The Iraq government has been unable to reform and it is quite possible that protests in Baghdad may erupt again soon unless the PM is able to announce significant reforms. Earlier protests broke into the heavily-fortified Green Zone where the parliament is located.
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Ken is a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba, Canada, with his Filipina wife. He enjoys reading the news and writing articles. Politically Ken is on the far left of the political spectrum on many issues.