Carter announces 560 more US troops to Iraq

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State jihadist group frequently carries out suicide bombings targeting civilians.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Saturday that Iraqi forces had recaptured the Qayyarah airbase, some 60 kilometers (35 miles) south of Mosul, which IS seized in June 2014.

Carter told a gathering of USA troops in Baghdad: "With these additional U.S. forces I'm describing today, we'll bring unique capability to the campaign and provide critical support to the Iraqi forces at a key moment in the fight".

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Monday arrived in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on an unannounced visit to meet with Iraqi leaders, Iraqi official television reported. It will serve as a support base for the Mosul offensive. "Mosul is the prize", Col. Chris Garver, a US military spokesman in Baghdad, said. They will primarily be used to transform an air base retaken this month from IS into a staging hub for the long-awaited battle to recapture Mosul - Iraq's second-largest city - from the extremists.

The airfield is "one of the hubs from which..."

These steps include the recapture of several important areas across the two countries, including Ramadi in Iraq and Al-Shadadi, a town in northeastern Syria previously considered a strategic IS stronghold.

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The Islamic State has lost about 12 percent of the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria within the first half of 2016, according to IHS.

One of the defense officials said the Pentagon identified 10 initial goals for the Iraq fight earlier this year, and with the recapture of Qayara, all 10 have now been achieved.

Last week, IS killed more than 300 people in two attacks.

The US-led forces invaded Iraq in 2003, overthrowing Saddam Hussein and also setting the stage for 13 years of bloody violence in the country, including the rise of Islamic State.

US technical engineering support likely will be needed for bridging because Islamic State has blown up the bridges into Mosul, and police training might also be needed to help stabilize the city once Islamic State has been thrown out.

A senior US military official said the number of additional troops is what Gen. Sean MacFarland, commander of the coalition against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, had asked for, and the official added that there could additional troop requests in the future. In the face of battlefield losses the Islamic State has stepped up terrorist bombings in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities that have killed hundreds.

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