An American military official said Wednesday the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq has doubled the number of advisers on the ground who are helping Iraqi troops to retake Mosul from the Islamic State.
U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian told reporters the coalition's adviser corps has expanded to 450 people in recent weeks, the Associated Press reported. Dorrian said the reinforcements are intended to "accelerate the advance of the Iraqi security forces."
The Obama administration has maintained that ground troops in Iraq are not engaging in direct combat, but are rather serving in advise-and-assist roles to local forces. Dorrian made clear that U.S. forces "remain behind the forward line of troops," but noted that military advisers have entered Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, several times.
Roughly 4,935 U.S. troops are officially deployed in Iraq, according to Pentagon numbers. The Pentagon also maintains up to 1,500 additional troops in the country who are on temporary assignments or not included in formal military tallies.
The Iraqi army launched its operation to retake the ISIS stronghold in October. U.S. military officials have warned the mission could take months to complete.