Iraqi officials had previously predicted they’d have western Mosul fully “liberated” by the end of March. With just a few days left, the offensive remains largely stalled however, with the offensive moving at a snail’s pace. Hoping to speed things up, the US has announced another escalation, sending more combat troops into the city.
The size of this escalation is as yet unknown, with the Pentagon only announcing that the deployment was being ordered, putting more combat troops into the city for “advise and assist” operations. These appear to be some of the troops previously tapped to go to Kuwait.
The only clue officials would give to the size of the new deployment is that it would not “reunite the entire brigade,” which means that the new deployment is at least less than 2,500. The troops are being considered “temporary,” like many of the troops in Iraq, which means they aren’t part of the official count.
The deployment comes in the wake of last week’s US airstrikes against western Mosul, which killed a large number of civilians. It’s unclear exactly where the troops are being put, but that they are seen as combat troops suggests they will be in the city’s west, which risks putting them in combat situations, and risks them facing local backlash after the huge civilian death toll.