Defense Secretary Ash Carter today arrived in Iraq for a visit to recognize and thank U.S., coalition, and Iraqi troops engaged in the counter-ISIL campaign, survey key locations directly supporting the battle for Mosul, and to discuss the next steps in the fight, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.
Carter is slated to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani as well as with Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve, Cook said in the statement.
During his visit to Iraq, Carter will receive an update on the operation to retake Mosul, Cook said. The secretary will meet personally with members of the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga forces who have been engaged in the tough fight for the city, he added.
Cook said the secretary will also meet with and thank U.S. and coalition service members who are providing support to the Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
Carter is in the midst of a round-the-world trip to thank deployed U.S. troops for their service over the holidays, meet with important regional partners, and advance U.S. priorities including the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific and the lasting defeat of ISIL, Cook said in the statement. The trip, he said, already has included visits to Japan, India, Afghanistan and Bahrain.
Cook said the secretary will also travel to Israel, Italy and the United Kingdom, where he will conclude the trip by participating in the latest meeting of defense ministers from the leading military contributors to the international coalition to defeat ISIL.