President Barack Obama, who promised less fighting in the Middle East, has decided to send 560 more troops to Iraq to help battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Mosul.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited Baghdad on Monday:
“With the retaking of Qayara West airfield, the Iraqi Security Forces have once again demonstrated a serious will to fight,” Mr. Carter said. “I congratulate them on their recent successes and reaffirm that the United States, along with our coalition partners, will continue to do all we can to support Iraq’s effort to serve ISIL a lasting defeat,” he said, using an acronym for Islamic State.
Qayara West airfield, which Iraqi forces reclaimed from ISIS on Saturday, is located around 40 miles from Mosul. ISIS has held Mosul, the country’s second largest city, since June 2014.
The additional troops means the U.S. has 4,647 “military personnel on official assignment in Iraq.” Obama recently said the U.S. will keep 8,400 forces in Afghanistan when he leaves next January.
Speaking to reporters at the weekend, Mr Carter said that the use of the air base would help create a “pincer movement” on Mosul, with Iraqi forces moving from the south and Kurdish peshmerga from the north and east.
“At every step in this campaign, we have generated and seized additional opportunities to hasten Isil’s lasting defeat,” Mr Carter said during his visit to Baghdad. “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.”
ISIS has lost territory, about the size of Ireland, in the past year after controlling large parts of Syria and Iraq. However, ISIS has shown strength in some areas, including their defeat of a unit of the New Syrian Army, formed by the U.S., “to penetrate the border town of Albu Kamal.” If they succeeded, the coalition would have cut the group’s “last main route between Iraq and Syria.”
Iraqi forces have taken back Ramadi, Fallujah, Hit, and Tikrit. This has led to the group attacking popular places in Baghdad, including one that killed almost 300 people in Karrada.DONATE
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