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America to deploy 600 troops to Iraq ahead of battle for Mosul: US officials

Iraqi officials also said that IS have lost control of their oil wells in Iraq, though they still control some in Syria
US soldiers train Iraq's 72nd Brigade, while taking part in a live-fire exercise in Basmaya base, southeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad on 26 January 2016 (AFP)

The US will send 600 additional troops to Iraq as central government forces push towards Mosul, which is currently occupied by the Islamic State group, according to AFP.

The deployment, announced on Wednesday, came in response to a request from the Iraqi government.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office said in a statement that they asked for "a final increase in the number of American trainers and advisers... to support the heroic Iraqi security forces in their impending battle to liberate Mosul."

The US had previously authorised more than 4,600 military personnel to be deployed to the country.

Most are in advisory or training roles, but some American forces have fought IS on the ground.

Three members of the US military have been killed by the group since the renewed military intervention started last year.

Top US military officers have hinted that the final push for Mosul could begin next month, but there are still significant military and political obstacles before the city can be retaken, according to Reuters.

The Mosul operation also poses major humanitarian challenges, with the United Nations saying that up to one million people could be displaced by the fighting.

"Humanitarian agencies are racing against the clock to prepare for the humanitarian impact of the military campaign," the UN said in a statement. 

Iraqi officials also said on Wednesday that IS has lost access to all of its oil wells in Iraq, though it still controls some in Syria.

The Iraqi oil ministry said that after being pushed out of the northern town of Shirqat last week, IS lost the last of its oil wells in Iraq. Last month, government forces also retook the Qayyara oilfield, south of Mosul.

Deprived of a key source of income, the militant group is having to increase taxation and fines within its territory, provincial security official Muthana Jbara told Reuters.