US to deploy additional forces to Iraq: Carter
BAGHDAD – Agence France-PresseThe United States will deploy additional forces to Iraq and make Apache attack helicopters available to support the country’s troops, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said April 18 in Baghdad.
“We are going to bring in additional forces,” Carter said, adding that the Apaches will support Iraqi efforts to surround and eventually recapture second city Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
A senior US defense official said around 200 additional American military personnel would be deployed, pushing the total figure past 4,000.
The United States heads an international coalition that is carrying out strikes against ISIL and also providing training and other assistance to forces fighting the jihadists in both Iraq and neighboring Syria.
It has been bombing ISIL since August 2014, but most of the strikes are carried out by planes or drones.
Carter arrived in Baghdad from the United Arab Emirates, his first stop on a Gulf tour during which he will seek to shore up support for Iraq.
ISIL overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces have since regained significant ground from the jihadists.
Carter met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and was also to hold talks with Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi on increasing American military assistance to Iraq ahead of the key battle for second city Mosul, which ISIL holds.
While most American forces in Iraq play advisory and support roles, Washington has also sent in special forces to carry out raids against ISIL, and U.S. Marines have deployed to provide artillery support for Iraqi troops.
U.S. President Barack Obama repeatedly pledged that there would be no “boots on the ground” to combat ISIL, but U.S. forces are engaged in combat with the jihadists and two American military personnel have already been killed.