US troops head to Iraq ahead of Mosul fight

Smoke rises after airstrikes from the US-led coalition against ISIS militants in a village east of Mosul, Iraq, May 29, 2016. (Reuters)

The United States is stepping up its military campaign against ISIS by sending hundreds more troops to assist Iraqi forces in an expected push on the city of Mosul, the militants' largest stronghold, later this year.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the announcement on Monday during a visit to Baghdad, where he met U.S. commanders, as well as Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi.

Most of the 560 additional troops will work out of Qayara air base, which Iraqi forces recaptured from ISIS militants and plan to use as a staging ground for an offensive to retake Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city.

Government forces said on Saturday they had recovered the air base, about 60 km (40 miles) from the northern city, with air support from the US-led military coalition.

"With these additional US forces I'm describing today, we'll bring unique capability to the campaign and provide critical support to the Iraqi forces at a key moment in the fight," Carter told a gathering of US troops in Baghdad.

The new troops were "ready to come" and it would be a matter of "days and weeks, not months," he said.

Abadi has pledged to retake Mosul by the end of the year.

SHOW MORE
Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:51 - GMT 06:51
Top