WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Defense is asking President Barack Obama to send 500 additional U.S. troops to Iraq ahead of the ground offensive by Iraqi security forces to take Mosul back from the Islamic State.
If approved by the White House, the official deployment of U.S. personnel to Iraq would increase from 4,400 to 4,900. The Pentagon does not include up to 1,500 U.S. personnel in the official deployment number because they are considered to be on temporary assignments or at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
The battle to capture Mosul has been held off for months, though Iraqi security forces — aided by the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition — have recaptured surrounding areas and targeted IS positions.
The U.S. troops will offer a variety of support to Iraqis such as providing logistics, creating infrastructure and training soldiers. Iraqi security forces are leading the battle for Mosul with the United States’ aid through airstrikes and special operations missions.
Most U.S. troops will be deployed near Qayyarah, where hundreds of U.S forces have gathered in recent months after it was seized from Islamic State control in July.
Col. John Dorrian, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, earlier this month estimated that there are up to 4,500 IS militants in Mosul.
The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh, captured Mosul as part of a land grab in 2014.