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US forces to train, fight terror in Iraq: Pentagon

BAGHDAD, Feb 13, (Agencies): Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said during his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdulmahdi American forces are to train Iraqi troops and fight terrorist groups.

A government statement quoted Shanahan as saying he was pleased with level of Iraq’s security and stability, praising the efforts of the Iraqi government in providing services to their people. Shanahan pointed out that he came to Iraq to listen directly to the vision of the Iraqi government to the nature and future of relations between the two countries. He stressed that the mission of US forces in Iraq is to fight so-called Islamic State (IS) and training Iraqi troops.

For his part, Abdulmahdi stressed keenness on relations with the US, but demanded “compliance with agreements, fighting terrorism and training Iraqi forces, not anything else.” Abdulmahdi affirmed that his country will not accept any foreign bases on the Iraqi territory, calling for supporting the efforts leading to stability and reconstruction and the development of the economy. He stressed that the Iraqis were taking their own decisions. The US Acting Secretary of Defense’s visit came amid an internal Iraqi debate over the fate of US troops after recent statements by the US president that his forces are in Iraq to monitor Iran.

Abdulmahdi said on Tuesday the army was planning to enter Syria to hit so-called Islamic State (IS) but the mission was canceled at request by the international coalition to abort the mission. In his weekly press conference, the Prime Minister said Syrian democratic forces lost grounds to IS at the beginning of the year, enabling it to take control of over 600 sq kms of land. He added that the mission was scheduled on Jan 15, however the international coalition have requested abortion.

The Iraqi forces continued to bomb IS’ positions by airstrikes on one hand and supporting the coalition forces on the other to ultimately push IS out of territories they control, he added. Iraq will repatriate Iraqi members of the Islamic State group held by Abdulmahdi said.

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