240 ad­di­tional troops to join Mosul cam­paign

Sol­diers to join ef­fort to re­take western Mosul from ISIS.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - Michael R. Gor­don ©2017 The New York Times

The sol­diers from Fort Bragg will not be in front-line com­bat in bid to oust Is­lamic State, but “route clear­ance” mis­sion will be risky.

The United WASH­ING­TON — States is send­ing more than 200 ad­di­tional sol­diers to Iraq to sup­port the Iraqi mil­i­tary’s push to re­take western Mosul from the Is­lamic State, mil­i­tary of­fi­cials said Mon­day.

The de­ploy­ment in­cludes two Army in­fantry com­pa­nies and one pla­toon equipped to clear away road­side bombs. The sol­diers are ex­pected to leave for Iraq within the next 36 hours.

The troops, about 240 sol­diers in all, are from the 82nd Air­borne Di­vi­sion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and will re­in­force the more than 5,000 troops that the United States al­ready has in Iraq.

The troops’ mis­sion is not to en­gage in di­rect front-line com­bat, but the op­er­a­tion will put them in dan­ger­ous ar­eas. The in­fantry com­pa­nies, mil­i­tary of­fi­cials said, will pro­tect the con­tin­u­ing U.S. ef­fort to ad­vise and as­sist Iraqi forces as they push into western Mosul.

The mis­sion of the “route clear­ance” pla­toon is in­her­ently risky, as it in­volves sweep­ing away road­side bombs.

Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials dis­cussed the de­ploy­ment on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause it has not yet been of­fi­cially an­nounced.

The troops that are be­ing sent are part of the di­vi­sion’s 2nd brigade. About 2,000 sol­diers from that brigade are still at Fort Bragg and avail­able for ad­di­tional de­ploy­ments.

The de­ploy­ment re­flects the lee­way the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has given its com­man­ders to move forces into the bat­tle zone with­out lengthy re­view in Wash­ing­ton.

The United States re­cently sent Army Rangers and a Ma­rine ar­tillery unit to Syria. The Army Rangers are op­er­at­ing in the north­ern town of Man­bij to de­ter Turk­ish-backed Syr­ian fight­ers from mov­ing into the area. The Ma­rine ar­tillery unit is pro­vid­ing fire­power for the of­fen­sive to take the Tabqa Dam and cut off the western ap­proaches to Raqqa, which is be­ing car­ried out by Syr­ian fight­ers backed by the United States.

KHALID MO­HAMMED /AP

U.S. sol­diers stand out­side their ar­mored ve­hi­cle south of Mosul, Iraq, in Fe­bru­ary. As Iraqi forces push into western Mosul, coali­tion troops are closer to front­line fight­ing than ever be­fore.

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