Published: Sun, July 17, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Will Deploy 560 More Troops to Iraq

Visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, center left, accompanied by the Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi, center right, arrives to the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, July 11, 2016. "I am pleased to report today that. we agreed for the United States to bolster Iraqi efforts to isolate and pressure Mosul by deploying 560 additional troops", Carter said at the Baghdad airport following meetings with the Iraqi Prime Minister and Defence Minister.

Most of the engineers, logistics personnel, security and communications forces will concentrate on building up Qayara air base, about 40 kilometers south of Mosul.

It is worthy to be mentioned here that Prime Minister Abadi has pledged to reclaim Mosul by the end of this year.

However, there is still debate in Washington about the timing of a move on Mosul.

Separately, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee said on Monday that President Obama must ask Congress for additional funds to pay for the deployment of more troops to Iraq, as Congress and the White House debate defense spending amid mandatory budget cuts.

The recent uptick in IS attacks beyond the front lines demonstrated the IS group's ability to launch lethal attacks despite recent territorial losses in both Iraq and Syria, where it has established a self-proclaimed caliphate.

The troops captured the Qayara airfield on Saturday which they intend to use in their final offensive against ISIS in its Mosul stronghold.

A small group of US forces surveyed the airfield shortly after it was seized by the Iraqis, but USA military officials said it was unclear how much time it would take before cargo planes and other aircraft could land there.

The ultimate goal was "the recapture of all of Iraqi territory by the Iraqi security forces, but of course Mosul is the biggest part of that", Carter said.

The latest U.S. surge comes less than three months after Washington announced it would dispatch about 200 more soldiers to accompany Iraqi troops advancing towards Mosul.

The recapturing of Hit, Rupta and Ramadi in Iraq were key steps toward splitting the Iraq and Syria battlefields, said one senior defense official.

Baghdad is on high alert for attacks after a blast in the central Karada district on July 3 killed more than 300 people. IS militants still hold pockets of territory in northern and western Iraq.

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