Pentagon chief in Baghdad for talks on IS fight
PENTAGON chief Ashton Carter arrived in Baghdad yesterday for talks with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on the fight against the Islamic State group and plans to recapture Mosul from the jihadists.
Mr Carter’s unannounced visit – his fourth to Iraq since beginning his job in February 2015 – comes two days after Iraqi forces captured an airbase to the south of Mosul that is seen as an important step toward the eventual battle for the country’s second city, which has been under IS control since June 2014.
More than two years after IS overran large parts of Iraq as well as territory in neighbouring Syria, Mr Carter wants to highlight successes, even as the jihadists have fought back with devastating attacks in Iraq and abroad.
“What I’ll be discussing with Prime Minister Abadi and our commanders there are the next plays in the campaign, which involve the collapse and control over Mosul,” Mr Carter told reporters aboard a military plane ahead of his visit.
The ultimate goal, he added, was “the recapture of all of Iraqi territory by the Iraqi security forces, but of course Mosul is the biggest part of that”. –
Iraqi police inspect the scene of a mortar and bombing attack on the Sayyid Mohammed shrine in Balad, 70 kilometres from Baghdad, on July 8. The Islamic State group carried out the attack on the Shia shrine that killed 30 people.