Iraq, US in talks to keep American troop presence after IS

The US backed Iraq offensive to reclaim Mosul from IS has advanced into the north of the city

Iraqi cities like al Qaim and Hawija remain under ISIS control, and the battle for such cities could further exhaust an already depleted local force.

Trump was critical of the 2011 U.S. troop withdrawal during his campaign, largely blaming Obama for the rise of Islamic State.

U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian briefs reporters at the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, the bulk of the Iraqi force, including the elite, USA -trained Counter-Terrorism Service and federal police units, advanced from the city's southern outskirts.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. agreed with Mattis, stating that Iraqi security forces will need USA support "for years to come".

He said two military vehicles were also destroyed in the attacks.

The militants are now besieged in the northwestern corner of Mosul which includes the historic Old City, the medieval Grand Al-Nuri Mosque, and its landmark leaning minaret where their black flag has been flying since June 2014.

Given that challenging geography, Iraqi commanders have said they now plan to lay siege to the Old City by attacking from the northwest.

Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declared a "caliphate" spanning parts of Syria and vast swathes of Iraqi territory from the pulpit of the Grand Al-Nuri Mosque almost three years ago.

However, as the Iraqi army proved to be riddled with corruption and inexperience - and fearing the influence of Iranian-backed militias - the U.S. has gradually increased its ground presence in the country.

Since the commencement of the Mosul offensive in mid-October 2016, military operations have displaced more than 473,000 people from Mosul to Anbar, Babil, Baghdad, Diyala, Erbil, Ninewa, Qadisiyah, Salah ad Din, Sulaimaniyah, and Wasit governorates, according to U.S. Government (USG) partner the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

"Everything I am trying to do is try to shape the battlefield for [Maliki]", said Browning, a battalion commander from the 82nd Airborne Division. Join us in a conversation about world events, the newsgathering process or whatever aspect of the news universe you find interesting or important. "Do you see civilians?"

But the big risk is to civilians, with up to half a million thought to be still in the area controlled by so-called Islamic State.

"In the beginning, we thought the postings were a routine rotation.but it has now been confirmed that they are additional forces", he said, adding that most of the soldiers were sent to outposts south of Mosul and Haditha dam in Anbar province.

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