Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi denied reports that US ground troops, who have been stationed in growing numbers around Mosul, will be participating in the military offensive against ISIS, aimed at ultimately retaking the city.
“Foreign troops are here for advising, not fighting,” Obeidi claimed, even though US officials have made a big deal about establishing a “fire base” adjacent to Mosul for launching artillery strikes against ISIS targets in the area.
Iraq launched an offensive against villages in the area last week, seizing three of them, though that offensive has since stalled with reports of mass desertion by Iraqi military forces, and complaints by locals in the villages of looting.
The involvement of US ground troops in Iraq’s war has been hugely politically controversial in the country, still fresh off a protracted US occupation, and the Abadi government has been desperate to downplay how much the US is doing.
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