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Obama makes case for more U.S. involvement in Iraq

By Andrew V. Pestano
Obama makes case for more U.S. involvement in Iraq
Kurdish Peshmerga forces, seen here during live-fire exercises, seized control of two villages northeast of Mosul from the Islamic State as the battle for Iraq's second-largest city continues. President Barack Obama on Monday suggested there will be significant progress against the Islamic State this year. Photo by Spc. Jessica Hurst/U.S. Army | License Photo

BAGHDAD, April 19 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama said he expects the city of Mosul to be retaken by the Iraqi government by the end of the year.

"My expectation is that by the end of the year, we will have created the conditions whereby Mosul will eventually fall," the president told Charlie Rose of CBS News in an interview at the White House released Monday. "As we see the Iraqis willing to fight and gaining ground, we must make sure that we are providing them more support."

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Iraqi Security Forces launched an offensive to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State control in March. The effort began by isolating the city from surrounding areas and slowly chipping away at IS territory and supply routes.

Obama's comments follow an announcement by the U.S. Department of Defense that the United States will increase troop numbers in Iraq, deploy AH-64 Apache helicopters and help fund Kurdish Peshmerga forces with up to $415 million.

RELATED Fight against Islamic State in Iraq is becoming a major ground war

On Monday, Kurdish officials said two villages controlled by the Islamic State northeast of Mosul were freed from IS control with the help of the U.S.-led coalition and other allied militia forces.

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The ground offensive for Mosul is supported by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes. Obama said the U.S. strategy of helping the Iraqi government with training and airstrikes is helping counter the Islamic State insurgency.

"We're not doing the fighting ourselves, but when we provide training, when we provide special forces who are backing them up, when we are gaining intelligence -- working with the coalitions that we have -- what we've seen is that we can continually tighten the noose," Obama said.

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