US forces will join Iraqi government forces in their anticipated offensive against Islamic State extremists in western Mosul, the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
Al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) and fighter jets from the U.S.-led international military coalition will partake in taking control over the western region, according to the statement.
Iraqi Defense Minister Erfan Mahmoud al-Hayali has received a phone call from the head of the United States Central Command, General Joseph L. Votel, which discussed coordination and joint cooperation between the Iraqi joint forces and the US troops backed by international air forces," read the statement.
It added that both sides agreed to set a definite date to begin military operations in the western side of Mosul after operations concluded at the eastern region.
Votel stressed that U.S. troops would "continue to provide assistance to Iraqi forces through aerial support and engagement in difficult battles,' according to the ministry.
A U.S.-led international military coalition has been backing the Iraqi government in its three-month-old battle against Islamic State militants who took over Mosul in 2014. Operations managed to clear the eastern region from extremists on January 24th, and preparations are running to invade the west where the group still holds a majority of territory.
So far, the U.S. and other international troops have been playing an advisory and training role with Iraqi troops. They only engaged in fighting through air forces, though some instances of not- much- publicized ground engagement were reported over the past few months.