The US Secretary of Defense has said that the American military forces and its coalition allies need to stay in Iraq, even after the terrorist group ISIS has been defeated.
Ashton Carter said terrorist groups were headed towards a lasting defeat but the US-led coalition, which has purportedly been striking Islamic State positions in Iraq since 2014, had to stay and keep training local security forces to ensure the group does not rise again
Press TV reports:
“But there will still be much more to do after that to make sure that, once defeated, ISIL stays defeated,” the Pentagon chief said. “We’ll need to continue to counter foreign fighters trying to escape and ISIL’s attempts to relocate or reinvent itself. To do so, not only the United States but our coalition must endure and remain engaged militarily.”
“In Iraq in particular, it will be necessary for the coalition to provide sustained assistance and carry on our work to train, equip and support local police, border guards and other forces to hold areas cleared from ISIL,” he added.
Carter made the remarks amid significant achievements by Iraqi military and popular forces in purging Daesh from Mosul, the country’s second-largest city.
Since late October, nearly 30,000 Iraqi army soldiers, fighters from pro-government Popular Mobilization Units and Kurdish Peshmerga forces have launched a massive and multi-pronged operation to retake Mosul from foreign-backed militants.
Carter did not say that how many of the foreign forces were going to stay in the Arab country and how long the operation was going to take. Currently, there are over 5,000 US forces stationed in Iraq.
Elsewhere, the outgoing secretary noted that President Barack Obama’s administration had ordered the US Joint Special Operations Command to mainly focus on destroying Daesh’s ability to carry out attacks in the West.
Carter also pointed to the ongoing government transition in Washington, saying that with retired General James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump had picked the right person to lead the US military in his incoming administration.
“I’ve worked with Jim for many years, he’s a friend, and I hold him in the highest regard,” Carter said, pointing to Mattis’ record as the former head of US Central Command, which oversaw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.