Defense Secretary Ash Carter met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi yesterday in Baghdad and spoke with troops there about the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the ongoing military campaign to retake the city of Mosul.
On this week’s international trip Carter also is visiting Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, France and Belgium to meet with key partners in the campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat, and to participate in the fifth NATO defense ministerial of his tenure.
During a press briefing after his meeting with Abadi, Carter congratulated him on the start of the Mosul operation and commended Masoud Barzani, president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region since 2005, on his successful work with Iraqi forces.
Carter also reaffirmed to Abadi the vital importance of every country operating with full respect for Iraqi sovereignty.
‘That is the principle upon which the international coalition and everything that it does in this country is 100 percent committed to,” the secretary added.
Beyond the Mosul Campaign
As head of the U.S. Defense Department, Carter expressed regret for the losses that the Iraqis have taken in the counter-ISIL fight and for the most recent U.S. casualty in the region.
“We had the loss of an American service member here,” the secretary said, “This is a fight that we must fight but it comes with a price of heavy hearts for the families of the fallen.”
Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan, 34, of Anaheim, California, died Oct. 20 in northern Iraq of wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device blast. He was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Three.
Beyond the Mosul campaign to reconstruction, stabilization and U.S. and coalition assistance, Carter said he and Abadi discussed the continuing need to fight terrorism even after Iraq has reestablished control over its major cities.