US troops on the ground in Mosul: Pentagon
Iran Press TV
Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:39PM
The US military has confirmed that its troops are deployed on the frontlines in the offensive to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from Daesh (ISIL) terrorists.
On Monday morning, Iraqi government troops and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters launched a large-scale operation to drive Daesh from Mosul, Iraq's second largest city and the capital of the northern province of Nineveh.
US Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of the anti-Daesh coalition, said in a statement on Monday that elite international forces are playing a major role in the fight for the city, which was captured by terrorists in June 2014.
He said US Special Operations forces, known as Joint Terminal Air Controllers, or JTACs, are on the ground providing intelligence in an attempt to ensure greater accuracy of aerial bombardment.
The presence of US troops on the ground is the latest departure from US President Barack Obama's promise against having "boots on the ground" in Iraq.
"JTACs are the difference between precision bombing and area bombing," said Christopher Harmer, a former US Navy pilot.
He added that the presence of US troops indicated Washington was willing to "incur casualties" in Mosul.
"With JTACS, you can select individual targets in real time and accurately strike them. Without JTACs, you can only bomb a general area and hope for success," Harmer said.
The US has deployed at least 5,200 troops to Iraq, saying they are supporting government forces fighting against Daesh.
The US troops are allegedly providing air support, training and advice to the Iraqi military.
Meanwhile, the United Nations on Monday expressed concerns for civilians caught up in the Mosul offensive, which officials say could take weeks or even months. More than 1 million civilians are believed to be trapped in the city.
US forces invaded Iraq in 2003 to topple long-time dictator Saddam Hussein but the occupation deteriorated security in the Arab country and gave birth to various militant groups like Daesh.
Daesh terrorists have been committing vicious crimes against all ethnic and religious communities in Iraq and Syria, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds and Christians.
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