The U.S. military is requesting authority to send up to 500 new troops to Iraq ahead of a much-anticipated campaign to take back Mosul from Islamic State, according to U.S. officials, adding to an expanding American presence in the country.
The new deployment, if approved by the White House, would assist Iraqi and coalition forces in preparing for the battle to capture the northern city, the extremist group’s last major stronghold in Iraq. That fight is expected to begin as early as mid-October, U.S. officials have said.
The U.S. move would come in the wake of an operation that began Tuesday by Iraqi forces in Shirqat, a town north of Baghdad, to further degrade Islamic State supply lines into Mosul. That operation, which was announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in New York, where he is participating in U.N. General Assembly meetings, is a further indication that the Iraqi forces are preparing for the larger fight in Mosul, a city of about one million people.
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