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More US troops to reach Iraq ahead of Mosul battle

Around 600 new troops will assist local forces in the battle to retake Mosul from ISIS that is expected later this year

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The United States will send around 600 new troops to Iraq to assist local forces in the battle to retake Mosul from ISIS that is expected later this year, US and Iraqi officials said on Wednesday.

The new deployment is the third such boost in US troop levels in Iraq since April, underscoring the difficulties President Barack Obama has had in extracting the US military from the country. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement that his government asked for more US military trainers and advisers. Obama called it a “somber decision.”

“I’ve always been very mindful that when I send any of our outstanding men and women in uniform into a war theater, they’re taking a risk that they might not come back,” Obama said during a town hall event at a military base in Fort Lee, Virginia, televised on CNN.

The new troops will train and advise Iraqi security forces and Kurdish peshmerga forces, primarily in the Mosul fight, but also serve “to protect and expand Iraqi security forces’ gains elsewhere in Iraq,” US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said the troops would be deployed to Iraq in the coming weeks. Three US service members have been killed in direct combat since the launch of the US campaign against ISIS.

In an exclusive interview to Al Arabiya English last week, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher P. Karns, Director of Air Force Central Forces Public Affairs, US Air Force, had said that the coalition is creating organizational dysfunction among ISIS ranks and that the terror outfit will be defeated soon.