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Trump wants US troops in Iraq
March 11, 2016, 6:51 am

Trump says that some 30,000 US troops are needed to defeat ISIL in Iraq, There are at least 3,600 US military personnel already training forces in Iraq [Xinhua]

Trump says that some 30,000 US troops are needed to defeat ISIL in Iraq, There are at least 3,600 US military personnel already training forces in Iraq [Xinhua]

While American commanders worry about the logistics of maintaining supply lines for the Iraqi military as it prepares to attack cities controlled by the Islamic State, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has another solution.

Return US troops to Iraq.

During the Republican presidential debate on Thursday, Trump – who claims he had been against the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – said the only way to defeat the Islamic State would be to deploy a considerable force in the Middle East.

“We really have no choice, we have to knock out ISIS,” Trump said in the televised debate carried by CNN.

“I would listen to the generals, but I’m hearing numbers of 20,000-30,000.”

His position on sending troops to Iraq was echoed by other Republican presidential hopefuls.

On March 8, Commander of US Central Command (CentCom) General Lloyd Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee that more US troops would be needed to liberate Mosul from ISIL’s clutches.

His comments appear to reiterate US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s earlier position that more US troops would be needed in an “enabling” role for the Iraqi military.

Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and home to about one million civilians, was seized by ISIL in June 2014.

ISIL then spread its territorial foothold south into Anbar province neighboring the capital Baghdad.

In late December, following heavy US-led coalition bombardment of Ramadi, Iraqi military forces backed by tribal militias liberated the city from ISIL.

The Baghdad government says it now wants to focus on Mosul, some 300kms to the north.

But the US has already committed to an increase in US personnel in Iraq – in late November, US President Barack Obama authorized the deployment of about 200 special forces troops to deal with ISIL there.

There are already at least 3,600 US military personnel in Iraq acting in advisory and training roles.

According to US military sources, Carter has already committed to deploying more US troops “as the momentum of the effort increases” to liberate territory from ISIL.

In other words, if the campaign to liberate Mosul launches later this year, there will likely be a sizable US contingent either carrying out special operations or advising the Iraqi military.

But there is a complication.

US commanders and engineers have warned that the Mosul (formerly Saddam) hydroelectric dam on the Tigris River is on the brink of collapse, and could lead to catastrophic loss of life.

The dam was in a state of poor maintenance when it was seized by ISIL forces in May 2014. It was taken by Kurdish peshmerga forces last year, but there has been no repair work carried out since then.

The Baghdad government only last week signed a contract with an Italian firm to begin repairs, but there are fears this may be too late.

“If the dam fails, it will be catastrophic,” Austin said on Tuesday.

He echoed what many in the international community have voiced.

“There will be thousands of people donwstream that will either be injured or killed, certainly displaced. And the damage could extend all the way down to – close to Baghdad, or into Baghdad,” which is more than 200 miles downstream,” he said.

Iraqi and US officials estimate the death toll could be as high as 1.5 million people.

Baghdad has warned civilians to move about 3.5kms away from Iraq’s Tigris river.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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