Most of the troops
will serve as advisers for Iraqi forces who are advancing towards Mosul, the main city in Iraq still held by the Islamic State. In an interview with CBS news U.S. president Barack Obama said: "As we see the Iraqis willing to fight and gaining ground, let's make sure that we are providing them more support, My expectation is that by the end of the year, we will have created the conditions whereby Mosul will eventually fall." Earlier, Obama had been saying that Mosul would fall this year.
The advisers will be accompanying Iraqi units of about 2,500 troops moving closer to the front lines of the battle for Mosul. Until now the advisers have been with larger units far behind the lines The move could leave U.S. advisers more vulnerable to enemy mortar and artillery fire. Without mentioning the increased danger of casualties U.S. Defense Secretary, Ash Carter
, said: "This will put Americans closer to the action. Their whole purpose is to be able to help those forces respond in a more agile way."
claims the Pentagon said the U.S. would send 217 more ground troops, along with attack helicopters, and that they were heading for the front lines near Mosul. The new deployment
makes the violation of the agreement with Iraq to cap U.S. troop numbers in Iraq quite clear:
The deployment is the formal point at which the US will be violating its deal with the Iraqi government, wherein US ground troops were to be capped at 3,870. The Pentagon has admitted having almost 5,000 troops in Iraq for months, but didn’t count many, listing them as “temporary” even though they have no end date for their deployment. Today’s move will put the “official” figure at over 4,000.
During previous escalations Ash Carter pressed for Apache attack helicopters to be sent but this was alway rejected by the Iraqi government.
The U.S. move could add even more problems to those faced by Iraq PM Abadi who is under pressure not to allow further US ground troops in Iraq. Abadi hopes
to gain approval of a cabinet of technocrats to avoid the corruption and graft of the present system. Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has held huge demonstrations demanding reform. If the government allows in more U.S. troops this could lead to even more unrest as Al-Sadr is opposed to more U.S. ground troops.