Pentagon chief in Iraq to discuss Mosul offensive


BAGHDAD, Iraq – US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter arrived in Baghdad Saturday, October 22, to review the 6-day-old offensive to retake Mosul, the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS or the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq) group's last major stronghold in Iraq.

He will meet commanders from the 60-nation coalition which is led by the United States and assists Iraqi forces in their drive against the jihadists.

Carter is also due to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and is expected to discuss Baghdad's objections to Turkish involvement in the Mosul operations.

The Pentagon chief was also expected to discuss the post-ISIS future of Mosul, Iraq's second city and the place where jihadist supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the caliphate in June 2014.

The ethnic and religious mosaic of the Mosul area as well as the involvement of many foreign countries in the operations make any post-conflict political settlement a complex affair.

"There will be a big job of reconstruction and stabilization after," Carter told reporters traveling with him on Friday, October 21.

He said it was crucial that efforts to stabilize and rebuild Mosul after ousting ISIS not "lag behind our military efforts, that's critically important."

The United States has around 4,800 forces deployed in Iraq as part of the anti-ISIS coalition advising and training local forces.

One US service member was killed by an improvised explosive device on Thursday, October 20 northeast of Mosul, where Kurdish forces are leading a push on an ISIS-held tow. –