Pentagon chief Ashton Carter held talks Monday in Baghdad on the fight against the ISIL Takfiri group and the strategy to recapture Iraq’s second city Mosul from the terrorists.
Pentagon chief Ashton Carter held talks Monday in Baghdad on the fight against the ISIL Takfiri group and the strategy to recapture Iraq's second city Mosul from the terrorists.
Carter met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Defence Minister Khalid al-Obeidi, two days after Iraq announced the recapture of a base south of Mosul seen as an important step toward the eventual battle for the city.
Mosul has been under ISIL control since June 2014, when the Takfiris overran large parts of Iraq, carrying out atrocities including summary execution-style killings, mass kidnappings and rape.
ISIL also holds territory in neighboring Syria, but has lost significant ground in both countries.
"Let me begin... by expressing the condolences of myself and the United States for the terrorist attacks against the people of Iraq in recent weeks," Carter told Abadi on his fourth visit to the country since becoming defense secretary in 2015.
"You have our sympathy but also it further strengthens our resolve to help in the defeat of (IS), which all of our societies need because all of our societies are subject to attacks."
"I also want to congratulate you on the string of successes that the Iraqi security forces have had," said Carter.
The Qayyarah airbase, which Abadi announced Saturday had been recaptured, is located 60 kilometers (35 miles) south of Mosul and can serve as a launchpad for future operations to recapture the city.
Ahead of his meetings, Carter told journalists that he would discuss the next moves in the war against the terrorists.
"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," Carter said aboard a military plane.
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."