The US Department of Defense (DoD) is set to deploy an additional 1,300 soldiers to Iraq next month to train and advise national security forces and Kurdish fighters against Islamic State (IS) militants.
Pentagon press secretary navy rear admiral John Kirby said: "This deployment is part of the additional 1,500 troops that the president (Barack Obama) authorised in November."
The deployment was recommended by the US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, and was based on the request of the Iraqi Government, US Central Command’s assessment of Iraqi units and the progress made by Iraqi forces.
Approximately 1,000 of the deploying soldiers are from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, while the remaining 300 personnel will be drawn from multiple services.
The new contingent will advise and assist at the same higher headquarters level, similar to the existing 12 US military teams in the Anbar area and north of Baghdad, Iraq.
Kirby said the soldiers will train 12 Iraqi brigades, including nine from the Iraqi security force and three from the Peshmerga.
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In addition to the training and advice mission, the US is also conducting air strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria.
Launched as part of Operation Inherent Resolve and in cooperation with allied militaries, the air strikes are aimed at limiting the terrorist group’s ability to conduct operations.
Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters have reportedly seized the key Iraqi town of Sinjar from IS, who have controlled it since August, forcing thousands of Yazidis to evacuate their homes and take refugee at Mount Sinjar.
Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani was quoted by Reuters as saying: "Most of Sinjar is under our control now."