US defence chief in Iraq to step up fight against IS

Baghdad—US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter visited Baghdad Monday for talks on stepping up the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq, where the US has deployed troops to fight the jihadists. Carter’s visit comes after a week of political turmoil that has been a setback for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and the US defence chief has previously stressed the need to support the embattled premier.
The US is leading an international coalition that is carrying out strikes against IS and also providing training and other assistance to forces fighting the jihadists in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria. Carter will meet officials including Abadi and Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi to discuss increasing American military assistance to Iraq ahead of the key battle for second city Mosul. “The fight for Mosul is critical… and it’s a very large urban scenario,” a senior defence official said.—Agencies

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