WASHINGTON — The United States is sending more than 200 additional soldiers to Iraq to support the Iraqi military’s push to retake western Mosul from the Islamic State, military officials said on Monday.
The deployment includes two Army infantry companies and one platoon equipped to clear away roadside bombs. The soldiers are expected to leave for Iraq within the next 36 hours.
The troops, about 240 soldiers in all, are from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., and will reinforce the more than 5,000 troops the United States already has in Iraq.
The troops’ mission is not to engage in direct front-line combat, but the operation will put them in dangerous areas. The infantry companies, military officials said, will protect the United States’ continuing effort to advise and assist Iraqi forces as they push into western Mosul.
The mission of the “route clearance” platoon is inherently risky, as it involves sweeping away roadside bombs.
Military officials discussed the deployment on the condition of anonymity because it has not yet been officially announced.
The troops that are being sent are part of the division’s Second Brigade. About 2,000 soldiers from that brigade are still at Fort Bragg and available for additional deployments.
The deployments reflect the leeway the Trump administration has given commanders to move forces into the battle zone without lengthy review in Washington.
The United States recently sent Army Rangers and a Marine artillery unit to Syria. The Army Rangers are operating in the northern town of Manbij to deter Turkish-backed Syrian fighters from moving into the area. The Marine artillery is providing firepower for the offensive to take the Tabqa Dam and cut off the western approaches to Raqqa, which is being carried out by Syrian fighters backed by the United States.