More U.S. troops are headed to Iraq where they will be occupying an airfield that was just recently wrested from ISIS control.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the new deployment of 560 service members, bringing the total to 4,647, during a surprise visit to Iraq. The Syrian rebels benefitted from a recent troop plus-up as well, climbing from 50 U.S. special operators to 300.
The future arrivals in Iraq will head to Qarayyah Airfield, which sits 25 miles south of Mosul and will serve as the staging area for coalition efforts to retake the important city. Qarayyah was retaken from ISIS during fighting on Jul. 9-10, 2016.
According to reporting in CNN, the U.S. forces will primarily provide logistics support but could also assist with intelligence tasks or provide advice to Iraqi commanders.
Iraqi forces have retaken Fallujah, Ramadi, and Tikrit in just over year and the fall of Mosul would provide another major victory for Iraqi forces. Meanwhile, Syrian rebels and government forces under Bashar al-Assad have squeezed the terror group from the other side.
But ISIS has remained a potent threat despite losing ground on nearly all fronts. On Jul. 3, they managed to launch some of their deadliest attacks yet on Iraq’s capital in Baghdad, killing 215 in a single bombing.
Their ability to inspire attacks internationally remains potent as well. Most ISIS-inspired attacks have been against Muslim nations in the Middle East, but France, America, Germany, and other western countries have all suffered as well. The shooter who attacked Pulse Nightclub in Orlando claimed to have been inspired by ISIS and other terrorist organizations.
Meanwhile, ISIS has managed to direct a few attacks overseas. The deadly bombings in an Istanbul airport on Jun. 28 were not claimed by ISIS, but officials have signaled that they believe the attack was at least supported by ISIS and probably coordinated by ISIS leadership.
Retaking all of ISIS’s ground will not end the threat the group poses, but it should degrade it. ISIS relies heavily on income that would be challenging to keep flowing without territory.
It’s nearly impossible to sell large quantities of black market oil without oil fields. And while they could still take donations or blackmail individuals, they can only tax entire cities if they control the cities.