WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iraq’s prime minister said on Thursday that he welcomed Iranian assistance in Iraq’s battle against Islamic State but suggested unease with the prominence of a top Iranian general, who has been widely seen in photos from Iraq’s battlefields.
Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s al-Quds brigade of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was almost an invisible man until Islamic State’s Sunni jihadists overran cities in northern and central Iraq last year.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iraq’s prime minister said on Wednesday that the Islamic State remains a fierce adversary as he outlined plans during a trip to Washington to prioritize battles in the refinery city of Baiji and Anbar province, where the militants are striking back.
Haidar al-Abadi, speaking to reporters a day after meeting U.S. President Barack Obama, portrayed a mixed picture of a weakening Islamic State eight months after U.S.-led air strikes against the group began in Iraq.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said on Wednesday the fighting in Yemen could engulf the region in war, and suggested after talks in Washington that U.S. leaders shared his concerns and “want to stop this conflict as soon as possible.”
Abadi, who met with U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday, also said that convincing Iraq’s neighbor Saudi Arabia to halt its offensive in Yemen could be difficult.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iraq’s prime minister will seek President Barack Obama’s help to acquire billions of dollars in drones and other U.S. arms to fight Islamic State during a U.S. visit next week, but will request deferment of payments for the purchases, a senior Iraqi official said.
Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi is grappling with an insurgency by militants from Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that emerged from the chaos in Iraq and neighboring Syria and seized much of northern and central Iraq last year.
BAGHDAD/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S.-led coalition warplanes launched their first airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Tikrit on Wednesday, officials said, coming off the sidelines to aid Iraqi forces fighting alongside Iran-backed Shi’ite militia on the ground.
The decision to give air support to the Tikrit campaign pulls the United States into a messy battle that puts the U.S.-led coalition, however reluctantly, on the same side of a fight as Iranian-backed militia in a bid to support Iraqi forces and opens a new chapter in the war.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S.-led coalition is planning to carry out air strikes in support of Iraqi operations against Islamic State in the city of Tikrit, a U.S. official said on Wednesday, confirming comments by Iraq’s president in an interview with Reuters.
The U.S. official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, declined to discuss timing of any strikes.
By Phil Stewart
CAMP DAVID, Md. (Reuters) – The United States assured Afghanistan’s leaders on Monday it would keep funding Afghan security forces at a targeted peak level of 352,000 personnel at least into 2017 to provide stability as foreign troops withdraw from the country.
The announcement by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter came ahead of talks at the White House on Tuesday at which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is expected to press his case for a slowing of the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani praised U.S. troops who have fought and died during more than 13 years of war in his country as he kicked off a visit to Washington on Monday to drive home the case for slowing the withdrawal of America forces.
In an address to U.S. soldiers and military families at the Pentagon, Ghani sought to reassure Americans of the value of their sacrifice in lives lost and money spent in the battle against al Qaeda and other extremists.
WASHINGTON/BEIRUT (Reuters) – The United States lost one of its Predator drone aircraft over northwest Syria on Tuesday, U.S. officials said, as Syrian state media reported its air defenses brought down the spy plane in the government-controlled Latakia province.
If Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces took down the U.S. aircraft – something U.S. officials said was not immediately certain – it would raise the stakes in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against Islamic State militants that began in Syria in late September.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States does not appear to have clear-cut legal authority to protect Syrian rebels it trains from attack by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, even under new war powers, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday.
Still, Carter told Congress, a final determination had not yet been made.
The remarks underscore the deep uncertainty surrounding a fledgling U.S. military-led training program expected to get under way in the coming weeks, first in Jordan, then at training sites in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and, later, Qatar, with the goal of training upwards of 5,000 fighters a year.