World, Middle East

US to raise number of Iraq advisors to 8,000: Baghdad

Move comes in advance of campaign to recapture Daesh-held city of Mosul

28.09.2016
US to raise number of Iraq advisors to 8,000: Baghdad FILE PHOTO

By Arif Yusuf

BAGHDAD

Washington will increase the number of its advisors in Iraq in line with a request by Baghdad, according to an Iraqi government statement issued Wednesday.

"The reason for the increase of U.S. advisors in Iraq is to provide the necessary support for the imminent campaign to recapture Mosul from the Daesh terrorist group," the statement read.

"The Iraqi government has consulted with the U.S. president on this issue," it added, stressing that "any increase [in the number of advisors] will be carried out under the auspices of the international coalition".

The U.S. is currently leading a 60-nation anti-Daesh coalition, which has carried out numerous airstrikes on Daesh targets since the terrorist group overran vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

U.S. forces have also provided tactical advice and combat training to Iraqi security forces with a view to enhancing the latter’s capacity to fight Daesh.

In its Wednesday statement, the Iraqi government did not provide the exact number of U.S. advisors and trainers currently in the country.

At a Tuesday press conference, however, Colonel John Dorian, a spokesman for the anti-Daesh alliance, put the number of coalition troops now on the ground in Iraq at 8,000, including 4,500 Americans.

This number, the spokesman stressed, would not be increased without the express consent of the Iraqi government.

At the same press conference, Dorian put the number of militants in Iraq’s northern Daesh-held city of Mosul at somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000.

"Our intelligence confirms that Daesh militants have dug trenches and erected outposts inside Mosul," he said. "We expect to see fighting inside the city."

The army official went on to say that coalition warplanes had recently carried out a total of 341 airstrikes against Daesh-held petroleum sites in Iraq, which, he asserted, would cut into the funds available to the terrorist group.

In mid-2014, Daesh captured Mosul -- Iraq’s second largest city -- along with considerable portions of the country’s northern and western regions.

In recent months, the Iraqi army, backed by coalition airstrikes, has managed to retake much territory. Nevertheless, Daesh remains in control of several parts of the country, including Mosul.

Iraqi troops and peshmerga fighters have recently captured a number of areas on the outskirts of Mosul, which Iraqi officials have vowed to recapture by year’s end.

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