Hundreds more US troops to help with Mosul offensive

Hundreds more US troops to help with Mosul offensive
The US will send an additional 600 troops to Iraq to help Baghdad's bid to retake Mosul from Islamic State group militants.
3 min read
28 September, 2016
US troops will help Iraq retake Mosul from Islamic State group control [Getty]
The US will deploy an extra 600 troops to Iraq to help with the Baghdad government's upcoming offensive to recapture the Islamic State group's last-remaining bastion in the country.

Baghdad requested more military personnel to help in its campaign to retake IS-held Mosul in the north of the country.

The "Battle for Mosul" has been predicted to begin in October, but there have been previous touted offensives on the largest city under IS control cancelled over the past two years.

However, with Iraqi forces having already taken key IS cities earlier this year, the Mosul offensive is more likely than ever to take place, and will prove to be the biggest battle yet for the government.

More support

A US official confirmed to Reuters that Washington was prepared to provide more support to the cash-strapped Iraqi government.

"In consultation with the government of Iraq, the US is prepared to provide additional US military personnel to train and advise the Iraqis as the planning for the Mosul campaign intensifies," the official said.

Iraqi forces, backed by a US-led coalition, Kurdish peshmerga and Iranian-backed Shia militias, are gearing up for the offensive.

The US currently has at least 4,400 troops in Iraq and is providing extensive air support with its allies.

It is also providing training and advice to the Iraqi military, which collapsed in 2014 as IS overran large swathes of the country.

While October has been put forward as the date for the offensive, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi would not be drawn on a date for the operation and asked for international support during a press conference on Tuesday.

"To begin the Mosul battle we have to get military and humanitarian support from the international community," he said.

"We will set the time to retake Mosul, when our forces are completely ready for that battle."

Turkey intervention?

He also urged Turkey to keep its hand out of the offensive, warning that Iraq was not the battleground for Ankara's conflict with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and its allies.

"Turkey will have no role in retaking Mosul and I ask the Turkish forces to leave Iraq," he said. "Iraq is not a place for the PKK and Turkey's struggle."

Aid agencies have warned that more than one million people could be displaced when the operation begin.

Shia militias have also been accused of committing serious abuses and reprisal attacks against Sunni civilians.

Hundreds of young men are thought to have disappeared when Iraqi militias retook Sunni cities such as Fallujah and Tikrit, some of the civilians suspected of belonging to, or sympathising with, IS.

There have also been reports of attacks on Sunni villages by Shia militias, while IS have launched a wave of bombing attacks on areas populated by Iraq's majority.