US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter spoke by phone with his Italian counterpart, expressing gratitude for Italy’s recent decision to send additional troops to Iraq, the US Department of Defense said in a statement.
Earlier in December, Italy agreed to send 450 forces to help protect workers who were repairing Iraq’s largest hydro-electric dam about 30 miles Mosul, which remains under control of the Islamic State.
“Secretary Carter thanked Minister [Roberta] Pinotti for Italy’s valuable contributions to the counter-ISIL [Islamic State] campaign, including Italy’s recent decision to deploy additional troops inside Iraq,” the statement read on Tuesday.
The terror group captured the facility on the Tigris River in August 2014, sparking fears it would blow up the dam, killing thousands downstream in Baghdad. The dam was later recaptured by Kurdish Peshmerga forces with the help of US airstrikes.
The deployment brings Italian troop strength in Iraq to about 12,000, according to media reports.
The Islamic State, also known as Daesh, is a designated terrorist organization outlawed in numerous countries, including in Russia.