Iraq Insists Foreign Forces Not Needed To Fight Islamic State Group
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Iraq does not need foreign ground troops to fight the Islamic State jihadist group, after Washington announced it would deploy special forces for that purpose.
"There is no need for foreign ground combat forces in Iraqi territory," Abadi said in a statement released late Tuesday.
"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 coordination with it," the statement said.
Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday that the US was deploying a "specialised expeditionary targeting force" to Iraq to work alongside local forces against IS, which overran large parts of Iraq last year.
Though the new troops will be based in Iraq, they will 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 (IS) leaders," Carter said.
US President Barack Obama had repeatedly pledged that there would be no "boots on the ground" to fight against IS, but US special forces have already conducted raids against the jihadists in Syria and Iraq, and more are set to follow the new deployment.
A US-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes against IS 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 has enough forces to defeat IS, 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 Shiite militias and allied politicians who oppose the US.