Carter in Irbil to review Kurds’ role in Mosul campaign
IRBIL, Iraq — Defense Secretary Ash Carter assured Kurdish leaders on Sunday that the U.S. would continue to provide air support for Kurdish forces in the campaign to liberate Mosul, as questions remained over Turkey’s role in that fight.
His arrival, which followed a visit to Baghdad on Saturday, coincided with an attack by Kurdish peshmerga forces on Islamic State militants in the village of Bashiqa. The village, located within the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, is key not only for its proximity to Mosul, but also because it is close to the location where Turkish advisers have trained fighters for the Mosul fight — a presence that has become a point of contention for Iraq’s central government.
Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous northern region that is part of Iraq, has about 10,000 troops assisting in the battle. In a historic agreement between the central Iraqi government and the regional Kurdish government, the Kurds agreed to advance no farther than 20 miles to the east of Mosul and then to hold that territory while Iraqi security forces and federal police forces advance into the city.
During his visit to Irbil, Carter met with Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani to emphasize the significance of the Kurds’ continued collaboration with Baghdad in driving the Islamic State group out of the city, which the terrorist group has held since 2014.
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