US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter said Monday that the US will deploy an additional 560 forces to Iraq as part of its campaign against the Islamic State extremist militia.
The new troops will be stationed in Qayyarah airbase, 50 kilometres south of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.
On Saturday, the airbase was recaptured by Iraqi forces after it had been seized by Islamic State militants in 2014.
Carter had arrived in the Iraqi capital Baghdad earlier on Monday to discuss with Iraqi officials means of confronting Islamic State and retaking the northern city of Mosul, which has been controlled by the extremist militia since June 2014.
Carter and Iraq’s Defence Minister Khalid al-Obeidi discussed means of military cooperation between the US and Iraq, the Iraqi Defence Ministry said in a statement.
“The preparations reached an advanced stage to retake Mosul,” al-Obeidi said.
Carter said that the US will offer all support that meets the needs of the Iraqi forces in order to accelerate the liberation of Mosul.
“US forces will help the Iraqis establish a logistical springboard for their offensive on Mosul,” Carter said.
“We will continue to look at what more we can do to create and seize opportunities and accelerate ISIL’s lasting defeat,” he added.
The White House said the decision was a response to Iraqi troops' recent retaking of the airfield and said the US forces would help to get the airfield up and running to use as a logistical hub for operations in Mosul.
"This is entirely consistent with the strategy that (US President Barack Obama) has laid out, which is that the United States and our coalition partners will be committed to supporting Iraqi forces as they take the fight to ISIL," spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has repeatedly pledged to "liberate" Mosul from Islamic State, which has in recent months suffered several military setbacks and lost ground in the country.
However, the al-Qaeda splinter group last week claimed responsibility for two attacks inside and north of Baghdad, leaving more than 300 people dead.
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