The U.S. military is planning to expand the number of so-called “fire bases” in northern Iraq to prepare for an assault on Mosul, ISIS’s Iraqi capital. The bases will be there to support local Iraqi forces. But they’ll also put U.S. troops near the frontlines of what will likely be the biggest battle of the war with the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

Troops at up to three temporary bases, on the north-south route from central Iraq to the northern city of Mosul, would advise Iraqi security forces, provide logistical support so Iraqi troops can move toward Mosul and even ground base support fire, defense officials told The Daily Beast.

The movement of U.S. troops within miles of the ISIS’s Iraqi capital would be yet another indication that the American military is increasingly conducting offensive operations even though President Obama has never publicly acknowledged the U.S. is back at war in Iraq.

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