US defense secretary arrives in Baghdad

Baghdad, April 18 (IANS) US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Monday arrived in Baghdad to assess with the Iraqi authorities the fight against terrorism.

Carter will meet political leaders and Iraqi military to give his support to the country’s armed forces in their war against the Islamic State, Efe news reported.

In late March, Carter and the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said more US military should be sent to train and assist Iraqi soldiers and police.

The US has 3,870 troops in Iraq, a contingent that has trained 17,500 Iraqi soldiers and 2,000 policemen, according to the latest official figures.

The US secretary of defense will discuss with Iraqi officials the current offensive against IS in the northern province of Nineveh, which aims to recover the city of Mosul, the stronghold of the jihadists in Iraq.

These operations include aerial coverage conducted by the international coalition, led by Washington, which began its bombing campaign against the IS over a year and a half ago in Iraq and Syria.

Carter’s visit coincides with a serious political crisis in Iraq, due to the demands of forming a new government made up of technocrats.

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