U.S. defense chief arrives in Baghdad on unannounced visit

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 11, 2016 3:12 AM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Monday to meet U.S. military commanders and Iraqi officials, as Washington seeks to capitalize on the recent seizure of a major airbase close to Islamic State-held Mosul.

U.S. officials said Carter would meet Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi, as well as U.S. Army Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, the head of the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Iraqi government forces said on Saturday they took back control of the Qayara airbase, 60 km (40 miles) south of Mosul, the largest Iraqi city still controlled by the hardline militant group.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Andrew Heavens)