December 11, 2016 / 7:55 AM / 2 years ago

U.S. Defense Secretary Carter in Iraq for talks on Mosul

Members of the Iraqi Army fire towards Islamic State militant positions at the south of Mosul, Iraq December 10, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Baghdad on Sunday for talks with Iraqi leaders on the U.S.-backed military campaign against Islamic State militants in Mosul, the Pentagon said.

Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, have been battling Islamic State in Mosul for eight weeks. The army has recaptured about a quarter of the city, but has faced major counter attacks by the retreating jihadists.

Carter said last week the battle for Mosul, while hard, could be complete before President-elect Donald Trump takes office next month. That, however would require a significant acceleration in the Iraqi army’s progress.

The Pentagon said Carter would meet Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the president of the Kurdish region Massoud Barzani and the commander of the U.S.-led coalition supporting Iraqi forces, U.S. Lieutenant-General Steve Townsend.

He will “thank U.S., coalition, and Iraqi troops engaged in the counter-ISIL campaign, survey key locations directly supporting the battle for Mosul, and discuss the next steps in the fight” against Islamic State, it said in a statement.

Reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Louise Ireland

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