We don't need foreign ground forces to defeat ISIS - Iraqi PM

2015-12-02 21:44
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. (Brendan Smialowski, AFP)

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. (Brendan Smialowski, AFP)

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Baghdad - Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that Iraq did not need foreign ground troops to defeat the Islamic State group (ISIS), after Washington announced it would deploy special forces to fight the jihadists.

Abadi did not directly reject the deployment, but did insist that any operations must be coordinated with the Iraqi government.

"There is no need for foreign ground combat forces in Iraqi territory," Abadi said in a statement released late on Tuesday in which he praised the performance of Iraqi special forces.

"The Iraqi government stresses that any military operation or presence of any foreign force, special or not, in any place in Iraq cannot be done without its approval and co-ordination with it," the statement said.

Colonel Steve Warren, spokesperson for the international anti-ISIS coalition, said that "the Iraqi government was informed" about the planned deployment.

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday that the US was deploying a "specialised expeditionary targeting force" to Iraq to work alongside local forces against ISIS, which overran large parts of Iraq last year.

Though the new troops would be based in Iraq, they would have the ability to conduct raids across the border in northern Syria.

"These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture [ISIS] leaders," Carter said.

US President Barack Obama has repeatedly pledged that there would be no "boots on the ground" to fight against ISIS, but US special forces have already conducted raids against the jihadists in Syria and Iraq, and more are set to follow the new deployment.

The US-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq since August 2014, and has also provided arms and training to forces in the country, but deploying forces with a specific combat mission ups its involvement in the conflict.

Abadi's remarks about the deployment of ground combat forces came a day after he said that Iraq had enough forces to defeat ISIS, an apparent response to a proposal by US senators to triple the number of American forces in the country.

Abadi faces major political pressure to not be seen as too close to Washington, especially from Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias and allied politicians who oppose the United States.

Read more on:    isis  |  barack obama  |  haider al-abadi  |  us  |  iraq

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