US, Canadian defense ministers arrive in Baghdad

Two officials speak to Iraqi counterparts about upcoming campaign to retake Mosul from ISIL

US, Canadian defense ministers arrive in Baghdad

World Bulletin / News Desk

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter arrived in Iraqi capital Baghdad on Monday in an unannounced visit, followed shortly afterward by his Canadian counterpart.

Hasan al-Noufal, an Iraqi Defense Ministry official, said that Carter had arrived at Baghdad International Airport before meeting Iraqi security and political leaders.

The U.S. official, al-Noufal said, planned to hold talks with his Iraqi counterpart, Khaled al-Obaidi, along with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the commander of Iraq’s armed forces, and other officials.

According to al-Noufal, talks between Carter and Iraqi officials would focus primarily on a planned military campaign aimed at recapturing the northern city of Mosul from the ISIL extremist group, which in mid-2014 overran large swathes of territory in northern Iraq.

Carter’s last visit to Baghdad was in April, during which he also discussed ongoing efforts to recapture territory from ISIL with Iraqi officials.

On Saturday, Iraqi forces retook the Qayyarah Air Base -- located just south of Mosul -- from ISIL militants. They now hope to use the base as a launchpad for a major campaign aimed at recovering Mosul itself.

Baghdad has repeatedly announced its intention to "liberate" Mosul -- Iraq’s second largest city -- before the end of the year.

Hours after Carter’s arrival to Baghdad, his Canadian counterpart, Harjit Singh Sajjan, also arrived in the Iraqi capital, according to the Iraqi Defense Ministry.

"Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi has received his Canadian counterpart and the military delegation accompanying him," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry gave no further details, but a ministry source -- who spoke anonymously due to restrictions on speaking to media -- said Sajjan also planned to discuss anti-ISIL operations with Iraqi leaders, with an emphasis on the planned campaign to retake Mosul.

Canada is a member of an international, U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition, which has been striking ISIL targets from the air -- in both Iraq and Syria -- since the extremist group’s dramatic territorial gains in 2014. 

Last Mod: 11 Temmuz 2016, 15:55
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