>> A case of mission creep, more US boots appearing on the ground in Northern Iraq in recent weeks after Kurdish Peshmerga fighters pushed back Islamic State militants. Washington loathed to get bogged down in Iraq again. And yet, troops there to advise and train are inching closer to the action, as a battle looms to retake Mosul, the de facto capital of Islamic State in Iraq.
Last week, Peshmerga forces seized 11 villages back from IS, so they could repair a bridge needed for the advance on Mosul. Reuters' Stephen Kalin in the northern city of Dohuk has just returned from that front line near the Great Zab river, south of Mosul.>> There were about a dozen US soldiers walking around.
Not working with the engineers, maybe giving them a little bit of advice here and there, but really just watching, supervising. They're also US Special Ops forces that are conducting raids against Islamic State behind the front lines.>> US forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011, a contingent returning there three years later after IS seized about a third of the country.
Apart from an air campaign, troops mainly staying on base. Even so, three US soldiers have died in Iraq in the last year.>> The US government has said that it doesn't want boots on the ground. That's the Obama administration policy. And yet, the US forces seem to be getting closer and closer to the front lines.
The US military is saying, when these three soldiers were killed, were saying that they were working either in an advisory capacity or they're working to protect advisers that were on the ground. They were not in active combat role.>> It's far from the days of occupation, but some 5,000 US troops are in Iraq, increasingly active and weary of too much attention.