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9 Mar, 2017 12:45

US mulls sending ‘reserve’ troops to Kuwait to fight ISIS – report

US mulls sending ‘reserve’ troops to Kuwait to fight ISIS – report

The US is considering sending up to 1,000 more soldiers to Kuwait to provide a reserve force in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria and Iraq, Reuters reports.

The potential move to create a more rapidly deployable Kuwait-based force may become a part of the ongoing review of the US strategy to defeat IS, the news agency says, citing US officials.

Up to 6,000 US troops are currently deployed in Iraq and Syria, mostly as advisers.

“This is about providing options,” an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the news agency regarding the reported plan. Officials told Reuters the new deployment would provide US commanders on the ground with more flexibility to respond immediately to unforeseen challenges on the battlefield.

Also, according to officials, the decision on whether to use the Kuwait-based reserve force would be left to local commanders – a drastic change in the way the fight against terrorists in the region is handled, as the Obama administration tended to micromanage the details of the war against ISIS. 

Reuters’ sources also said the potential deployment would differ from the existing US troop presence in Kuwait. Located on Iraq’s southeastern border, Kuwait has been a staunch ally of the US since 1991, when US forces spearheaded a campaign to drive occupying Iraqi troops out of the country, in what has come to be known as the first Gulf War.

According to Military Bases.com, there are currently eight US Army bases in Kuwait.Reuters said Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis declined to comment on the options which are being discussed by the Trump administration regarding the fight against ISIS. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that defeating Islamic State terrorists is one of the main goals of his presidency.

The operation to drive Islamic State out of the Iraqi city of Mosul, which has been branded the group’s capital in the country, has been going on since October, with 200,000 people fleeing the city in the past several months.

A new phase of the battle started on February 19, aimed at liberating the western parts of the city still held by jihadists. On Tuesday, the head of the Iraqi Army’s Counter-Terrorism Force reported that the Iraqi Army has regained control over 60 percent of western Mosul.

Earlier this week, Iraqi forces recaptured a key local government complex in the center of the embattled city, as well as a courthouse, a branch of the central bank, a police directorate, a Turkish consulate, and the city’s antiquities museum, once home to priceless ancient Mesopotamian artifacts, that are now either gone or reduced to rubble.

News of the potential Kuwait deployment follows confirmation by the US that it dispatched nearly 400 Marines to Syria to establish an outpost in support of the operation to retake the city of Raqqa, the de-facto ISIS capital in Syria.

The troops will provide support to US allies on the ground leading the offensive to liberate the city, codenamed Operation Euphrates Rage.