U.S. defense chief makes surprise trip to Iraq

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, center, is greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stu Jones, left, and Army Lt. Gen. James Terry, right, as he arrives at Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP)

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Thursday for talks with Iraqi leaders who are trying to reclaim momentum in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after ceding the city of Ramadi in May.

Carter, on his first visit to Iraq since becoming defense secretary in February, said he aimed to form "my own on the ground assessment of the campaign" after speaking with U.S. commanders and Iraqi officials, according to Reuters news agency.

Carter is not expected to announce any major change in U.S. strategy or increase in U.S. troop levels.

The approximately 3,360 troops now in Iraq are largely involved in training Iraqi troops, advising Iraqi commanders on battle plans, and providing security for U.S. personnel and facilities.

The U.S., joined by several coalition partners, also is conducting airstrikes daily to chip away at the Islamic State's grip on large parts of Iraq.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48