WASHINGTON (July 11, 2016) —
During his visit
to Baghdad today, Defense Secretary Ash Carter met with Iraqi leaders,
coalition commanders and U.S. troops and also announced that the United
States, in close consultation with the Iraqi government, will deploy an
additional 560 troops to Iraq to assist in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, according to a DoD news release.
"At every step in this campaign, we have generated and seized
additional opportunities to hasten ISIL's lasting defeat," Carter said.
"These additional U.S. forces will bring unique capabilities to the
campaign and provide critical enabler support to Iraqi forces at a key
moment in the fight."
Carter met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi and other
Iraqi leaders, commending them for recent progress in the fight against
ISIL, including the capture of a strategic airfield near the town of
Qayyarah that will aid operations to free Mosul, the release said.
"With the retaking of Qayyarah West airfield, the Iraqi
security forces have once again demonstrated a serious will to fight,"
the defense secretary said. "I congratulate them on their recent
successes and reaffirm that the United States, along with our coalition
partners, will continue to do all we can to support Iraq's effort to
serve ISIL a lasting defeat."
Building on Counter-ISIL Momentum
Carter also discussed the next steps in the counter-ISIL
military campaign, the release said. In light of Iraqi security forces’
recent advances, the release said, the defense secretary announced that
the United States, in close coordination with the Iraqi government, will
deploy an additional 560 troops to Iraq to build on that momentum.
The additional troops, the release said, will provide a range
of support for Iraqi security forces, including infrastructure and
logistical capabilities at the airfield near Qayyarah.
As the campaign shifts toward Mosul -- more than 250 miles from
Baghdad -- the airfield will become a vital springboard for Iraqi
forces’ offensive into Mosul, the release said. Coalition forces will
also continue to provide enabler support to Kurdish Peshmerga as they
converge on Mosul from Iraq's north, according to the release.
Obama approved the additional forces on Carter's recommendation
after consulting with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine Corps Gen.
Joe Dunford, U.S. Central Command commander Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel,
and the commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, Army Lt. Gen. Sean
MacFarland, the release said.
In his meeting with the Iraqi prime minister, the defense
secretary also expressed his condolences for the recent tragic bombing
in Baghdad, the release said.
Efforts to Protect Iraqis Against ISIL Attacks
Carter said the United States is prepared to bolster its
support for Iraqi government efforts to protect Iraqi civilians from
ISIL terror attacks, according to the release.
U.S. forces already share intelligence and with their Iraqi
counterparts, the defense secretary said, noting he is directing the
Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency -- which leads the department's
efforts to counter improvised explosive device -- to provide additional
assistance that could enhance security in Baghdad.
Carter's visit comes as the international coalition has
intensified pressure on ISIL in both Iraq and Syria, the release said.
In addition to the capture of the airbase at Qayyarah, Iraqi forces
backed by coalition air power and other support recently freed the city
of Fallujah from ISIL's control after previous gains in Ramadi, Hit and
Rutbah, according to the release.
In Syria, local forces backed by the coalition have surrounded
the city of Manbij, a hub for the flow of ISIL foreign fighters, the
release said. The defense secretary said the U.S. is also prepared to
step up its efforts to help vetted Syrian forces willing to take on
To ensure ISIL's defeat is truly lasting, Carter stressed
throughout his visit the need for economic aid and reconstruction
efforts to keep pace with progress in the military campaign, the release
The defense secretary closed his trip to Iraq, his fourth as
secretary of defense, by thanking U.S. troops for their dedication,
sacrifice and willingness to keep America safe, the release said.