Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said Washington would send more US troops to help local forces in the battle to retake Mosul from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) expected later this year.
"American President Barack Obama was consulted on a request from the Iraqi government for a final increase in the number of trainers and advisers under the umbrella of the international coalition in Iraq," he said in a statement on Wednesday.
Abadi's statement was confirmed by an unnamed US official who spoke to Reuters news agency.
US to send another 560 troops to Iraq
"In consultation with the government of Iraq, the US is prepared to provide additional US military personnel to train and advise the Iraqis as the planning for the Mosul campaign intensifies," the official said.
The official did not specify how many additional personnel would be deployed.
Last week, Abadi met Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, though it was not clear whether the deal was sealed there.
There was no immediate confirmation from the White House or the Pentagon.
|President Obama and Vice President Biden hold talks with Abadi in New York on September 19 [Reuters]
'No boots on the ground'
US Army General Joseph Votel, who oversees US forces in the Middle East, told Reuters in July the US military expected to seek additional troops in Iraq
There are at least 4,400 US troops in Iraq as part of a US-led coalition providing extensive air support, training and advice to the Iraqi military, which collapsed in 2014 in the face of ISIL's advance towards capital Baghdad.
Iraqi forces, including Kurdish peshmerga fighters and mostly Iranian-backed Shia militias, have retaken around half of that territory over the past two years.
But Mosul, the largest city under ISIL's control, is likely to be the biggest battle yet.
US and Iraqi commanders have said the push to retake the city could begin by the second half of October.
Current US troop levels in Iraq are still a fraction of the 170,000 deployed at the height of the nine-year occupation that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, sparking an al Qaeda-backed insurgency and throwing the country into a sectarian civil war.
Following the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, Obama insisted there would be no American "boots on the ground".
While coalition troops were initially confined to a few military bases, Americans have inched closer to the action as the campaign progresses
Source: News Agencies