US steps up anti Islamic State operations in Iraq

The US army has begun deploying its elite Delta Force commando unit for special operations in Iraq to target the Islamic State, CNN reports, citing US officials.

The force will be involved in carrying out raids to arrest and kill IS members, free hostages and capture areas, according to the channel, quoting US Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

“The only thing I’ll say is the (Expeditionary Targeting Force) is in position, it is having an effect and operating, and I expect it to be a very effective part of our acceleration campaign,” Carter tells reporters.

Carter says the army is gearing up to retake the city of Mosul, which will include greater US involvement than in other operations.

“Will we do more to enable them as they go north? Yes, we fully expect to do that,” Carter says.

He mentions providing more logistics support for Iraqi ground operations and helping set up temporary bridges that allow Iraqi forces to move into the northern Iraqi city, which is situated on the Tigris River. The Islamic State captured Mosul nearly two years ago and has used it as its major stronghold in Iraq.

Carter says the Iraqi troops will take the lead role in the Mosul campaign, with the US in support.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the operation to retake Mosul will be bigger than Ramadi.

“I, like the secretary, think we would do more in Mosul than Ramadi just because of the order of magnitude of the operation in Mosul would indicate to me that we would have more U.S. support in Mosul than we did in Ramadi,” Dunford says.

The two also indicate the US is stepping up cyber warfare operations against the Islamic State group

The US-led coalition is working to disrupt IS’s command chain “to cause them to lose confidence in their networks,” Carter says.

He does not offer technical specifics on how the coalition was doing this but said the tactic was to “overload their network so that they can’t function, and do all of these things that will interrupt their ability to command and control forces there, control the population and the economy.”

— with AP and AFP

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