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ISIS : U.S. to deploy about 200 more troops to Iraq in fight against ISIS

U.S. to deploy about 200 more troops to Iraq in fight against ISIS.


Defence Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday the U.S. is deploying a new special expeditionary force to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces fight Islamic State militants



The United States said on Tuesday it was deploying a new force of special
operations troops to Iraq to conduct raids against Islamic State there and
in neighbouring Syria, in a ratcheting up of Washington's campaign against the
group. 


U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter said the deployment of the new "specialized
expeditionary targeting force" was being carried out in coordination with Iraq's
government and would aid Iraqi government security forces and Kurdish
Peshmerga forces. 


"These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free
hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders," Carter told the U.S.
House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, using an acronym for Islamic
State, also known as ISIS. "This force will also be in a position to conduct
unilateral operations into Syria." 


Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office issued a statement saying it
welcomed foreign assistance but Iraq's government would need to approve any
deployment of special operations forces anywhere in Iraq — a point Carter also
acknowledged.


Abadi reiterated that foreign ground combat troops were not needed in Iraq,
although it was unclear whether Baghdad viewed these special operations forces
in that role.


Powerful Iraqi Shia Muslim armed groups pledged to fight any such deployment
of U.S. forces to the country.


Jafaar Hussaini, a spokesman for Kata'ib Hezbollah, one of the main
Shia militant groups, said that any such U.S. force would become a "primary
target for our group."


"We fought them before and we are ready to resume fighting," he said. U.S.
officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the plan to deploy the
special operations forces unit to Iraq was discussed and agreed with the
government of Iraq before Carter's announcement.


"As we further develop plans for these limited forces, we will continue to
work closely with our Iraqi partners on where they will be deployed, what kind
of missions they will undertake, and how they will support Iraqi efforts," one
U.S. official said.


Expanding U.S. operations

While the force is expected to number only about 200, its creation marks the
latest stepping up of U.S. military pressure on Islamic State while also
exposing American forces to greater risk, something President Barack Obama has
done only sparingly.


The force is separate from a previously announced deployment of up to 50 U.S.
special operations troops in Syria to co-ordinate on the ground with U.S.-backed
rebels fighting in a civil war raging since 2011.


Obama is under pressure to accelerate
a U.S.-led coalition's efforts to combat ISIS
, in particular after
the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.


He has been reluctant to commit large numbers of U.S. ground troops, instead
deploying limited numbers of advisors and elite forces.


Fred Hof, formerly a top State Department adviser on Syria, said the planned
deployment of special forces to Iraq to conduct raids and gather intelligence
represented a shift by Obama.


Hof, who is now at the Atlantic Council think-tank, said the U.S. special
forces were filling a gap in capable ground forces to fight ISIS, which won
control of Iraq's Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi in May and also controls
the northern of Mosul.


Obama "is edging as closely as he can to try to fill this gap without
violating in a technical sense his own 'boots on the ground' dictum," Hof said,
referring to Obama's frequent pledges not to return to U.S. troops to a
large-scale ground war.


That pledge, he said, does not appear to apply to U.S. special operations
forces. Obama in August 2014 authorized the first U.S. air strikes in Iraq since
the 2011 U.S. troop withdrawal and has deployed more than 3,000 American
military forces to train and advise Iraqi and Kurdish forces to fight Islamic
State.


McCain criticizes approach

His critics, including Republicans in Congress, accuse Obama of moving too
slowly against ISIS, which controls large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria
and claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.


Republican U.S. Senator John McCain said on Tuesday the new force represented
more "incrementalism" in the Obama administration's approach toward ISIS.


Carter offered few details on the new group, whose mission promises a more
regular operational role for U.S. special forces than seen since the return of
American troops to Iraq last year.


During the congressional testimony in which he disclosed the creation of the
force, Carter declined to say how many U.S. troops would be deployed.


One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the force may
number around 200 troops including support personnel, with only several dozen
likely to conduct operations.


The top U.S. military officer, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, said the
new force would greatly accelerate the collection of intelligence, which "will
make our operations much more effective."


"We're fighting a campaign across Iraq and Syria so we're going to go where
the enemy is, and we're going to conduct operations where they most effectively
degrade the capabilities of the enemy," Dunford testified. 
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