Kerry says Baghdad has not requested more US troops

US Secretary of State says Iraqi prime minister has not requested new US troops in fight against DAESH

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) gives a thumbs-up as Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al Abadi (R) welcomes him at the prime minister's palace in Baghdad April 8, 2016.

The United States Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday in a visit to Baghdad that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi had made no request for a new infusion of US troops to help fight the DAESH terrorist organisation.

According to officials the US has 3,780 troops in Iraq. However, that number does not include temporary deployments and the effects of rotating US military units in and out of the country. The total number of American troops is said to be over 4,000.

He also stressed in a press conference at the US embassy to Baghdad that US President Barack Obama and the Vice President Joe Biden support Abadi.

"I want to reiterate the support of President Obama, Vice President Biden, myself as secretary, and the entire administration [in] the United States for Prime Minister Abadi, who has demonstrated critical leadership in the face of enormous security, economic and political challenges," Kerry said.

He said he made clear to Abadi that it is important to have political stability in Iraq so that military operations are not affected. Kerry met earlier with Abadi and other senior Iraqi officials.

Abadi last week unsettled Iraq's political elite with a proposed cabinet reshuffle that aims to curb corruption by replacing long-time politicians with technocrats and academics.

Kerry met earlier with Abadi, who is grappling with an economy battered by low oil prices and strained by the cost of the war against DAESH which has displaced more than three million people and destroyed towns and cities.

Kerry said the US was providing an additional $155 million in humanitarian aid to Iraqis displaced by DAESH.

Mosul Offensive on Hold

Asked if there had been any discussion about more US troops going to Iraq, Kerry said there had been no formal request from the Iraqis and the issue had not been raised on Friday.

In the past two weeks, Iraqi forces backed by US-led coalition air strikes have retaken significant parts of Hit, a town 130 km northwest of Baghdad.

However, an offensive billed as the first phase of a campaign to recapture the northern city of Mosul has been put on hold until reinforcements arrive.

Kerry said Abadi had made clear his commitment to retaking Mosul and that he has a timetable for doing so.

"The fact is, in Iraq, DAESH fighters have not been on the offensive in months," Kerry said. "They are losing ground, including more than 40 percent of the territory that they once controlled in Iraq."

Baghdad is also hamstrung by the plunge in global oil prices that has shrivelled its main source of revenue.

On Thursday, officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the government said the oil price forecast in the 2016 budget would be cut to about $32 a barrel from $45, widening Iraq's fiscal deficit by several billion dollars.

TRTWorld and agencies