Wed, Dec 10, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Hagel arrives in Baghdad for round of consultations


US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel yesterday arrived in Baghdad to consult with Iraqi government officials and confer with US commanders about the campaign to defeat Islamic State fighters.

Hagel, on what is expected to be his last overseas trip as Pentagon chief, landed at the Baghdad International Airport under tight security. He is the first US defense secretary to visit Iraq since Leon Panetta in December 2011 to mark the end of the US military mission.

Hagel on Monday said during a visit to Kuwait that he believes Iraq’s security forces have gained a new momentum, thanks in part to sustained US airstrikes against the Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The US is committed to helping Iraq roll back the territorial gains the militants made earlier this year, but US President Barack Obama has ruled out sending US ground combat forces.

Hagel was scheduled to meet in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other government officials.

The top US commander for the military campaign against the Islamic State said in Kuwait on Monday that the militants have lost the initiative in Iraq.

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