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Carter, Iraqi Leaders Discuss Ways to Increase Pressure on ISIL

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, December 17, 2015 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter yesterday discussed with Iraqi leaders ways to increase pressure on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and to accelerate coalition progress against the terror group.

In Baghdad, Carter met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, as well as U.S. and coalition leaders during the visit.

The secretary received a progress update from U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Sean McFarland, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, and from the U.S. embassy team.

“So I was able to get an update from him, and also to emphasize to him our desire … to accelerate and strengthen our campaign here,” Carter told reporters traveling with him.

Productive Meetings

Carter said he had productive meetings with the Iraqi prime minister and then the Iraqi defense minister.

“I discussed with them once again the desire of the United States and its other coalition partners to accelerate progress – the kind of progress that the Iraqi forces are exhibiting in Ramadi, building on that success to complete the recapture of Ramadi, and then continue the campaign with the important goal of retaking Mosul as soon as possible,” he said.

Carter made it clear the United States is willing to do more and that U.S. officials are working with coalition partners to provide more support to Iraq.

Partnership With Iraq

“Finally, I reemphasized to the prime minister … that everything we do and the coalition does here in Iraq is subject to the principle of Iraqi sovereignty and therefore his permission,” the secretary said.

During testimony on Capitol Hill last week, Carter told senators that he was prepared to recommend U.S. helicopters and advisors be sent to Ramadi to aid the recapture of that city, if the Iraqi leader asked for them.

“Well, the prime minister did not make any specific requests … in connection with Ramadi,” he said. “However, we did discuss the possibility that circumstances in the future might cause our commanders to advise and his commanders to advise, and for him therefore to approve us doing more things.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews)