BAGHDAD – US Secretary of State Ashton Carter announced yesterday that Washington would send an additional 560 troops to Iraq to participate in a mission to recapture Mosul from the Islamic State militant group.
During an unannounced visit to Iraq, he said that most of the troops were engineers, logistics personnel and other technicians. He said they would be tasked with rebuilding the Qayara air base located in the south of Mosul.
Carter said the troops would also help Iraqi security forces in planning to encircle and eventually retake the key city, Mosul.
“With these additional U.S. forces I’m describing today, we’ll bring unique capability to the campaign and provide critical support to the Iraqi forces at a key moment in the fight,” he went on to say.
Talking to reporters before his arrival in Baghdad, Carter termed capture of Qayara airbase as a key strategic victory.
During his visit, he also met Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi and the top U.S. military commander in the region Lt General Sean MacFarland.
Earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had pledged to retake Mosul from the Islamic State by the end of the year.