Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Monday the U.S. will send an additional 560 troops to Iraq, marking at least the third time the U.S. has ramped up its effort against the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
Carter made the announcement while traveling in Iraq. The additional troops will support the Iraqi forces as they move toward the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and capital of the ISIS caliphate there. U.S. Defense officials hope to move on the city by the end of this year as they believe the fall of Mosul would mark the collapse of ISIS in Iraq.
The U.S. military plans to use a newly retaken air base 40 miles south of Mosul as a staging area, Carter said, during its push toward the city. All of the 560 troops will be staged there.
Either way, Monday’s decision likely is not the last time the U.S. will add more troops as it appears the Pentagon is adding more troops as needed on the move toward Mosul. In March, when Iraqi forces were roughly 60 miles south of Mosul, the U.S. military furtively stationed 200 Marines nearby.
The latest decision to ramp up the U.S. presence will mean the U.S. will have roughly 6,000 troops in Iraq.
Mosul fell under ISIS control June 10, 2014.
—Nancy A. Youssef