Carter says US will send 560 more troops to Iraq
July 11, Baghdad: The United States will be sending 560 more troops to Iraq to help establish a newly retaken air base as a staging hub for the long-awaited battle to recapture Mosul from Islamic State militants.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Monday announced this on an unannounced visit to the country.
Speaking in Baghdad, Carter said that most of the new troops will be devoted to the build-up of the Qayara air base, about 40 miles south of Mosul, and include engineers, logistics personnel and other forces.
They will help Iraqi security forces planning to encircle and eventually retake the key city, he said.
Carter revealed President Barack Obama's decision during a talk to troops at the airport in Baghdad. The increase brings the total U.S. force authorization in Iraq to 4,647, and comes just three months after Obama's last announcement of additional troops.
Iraqi forces retook the air base from the Islamic State group on Saturday.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hailed the success as a key step toward Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. Residents there should "get ready for the liberation of their areas," al-Abadi said.
Carter is expected to meet al-Abadi and minister of defense Khalid al-Obeidi, and Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the top U.S. military commander for the Islamic State fight. The main topic, he said, will be the next steps in the military campaign, with a particular focus on Mosul.
IS captured Mosul in the summer of 2014. It has used the city as a main headquarters since.
In addition to Qayara, Iraqi government troops recently have retaken Ramadi, Fallujah and a number of towns along the route to Mosul, the Associated Press reported.
The Oslo Times International News Network