Italy sends 500 special troops to Iraq for Mosul Dam sentry

Members of Italian army’s elite Bersaglieri force.

Mosul (  Italy has sent 500 more special forces troopers to Mosul to protect an Italian-constructed dam retaken from Islamic State extremists in 2016.

Russian newspaper Izvestia said the force from the elite 6th Bersaglieri regiment arrived in Iraq, becoming the first combat force Rome sends to participate in the war against Islamic State militants.

The force will be responsible for preventing militants from retaking the dam, as well as to protect nearly 300 Italian experts working on its maintenance.

IS had warned it would blow up the dam and submerge Iraqi territories. Experts, meanwhile had warned of a disastrous collapse of the dam due to its eroding foundations, but Iraqi officials have reiterated it remained safe as maintenance works proceed.

Italian company Trevi had won a $2 billion (£1.3 billion) maintenance contract to repair the dam before works halted amid a deteriorating security situation.

Italy already maintains nearly 750 soldiers in Iraq training local forces. It is a member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the group alongside the Iraqi government since 2014.

Iraqi commanders said last month IS was controlling less than seven percent of Iraqi territories as a major campaign to drive the group out of Mosul, its largest stronghold in Iraq, enters a seventh month and nearing victory.

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