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US to send special forces to Iraq to fight ISIS: Carter

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Washington: The US will send special forces to Iraq and Syria to intensify fight against dreaded militant group Islamic State, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has said, while calling on international community to step up the pace of its contributions to the fight.

“In full coordination with the government of Iraq, we’re deploying a specialised expedition targeting force to assist Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and put even more pressure on ISIS,” Carter said yesterday in his appearance before the House Armed Services Committee.

“These special operators will, over time, be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIS leaders,” Carter said. The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, also testified before the Congressional Armed Services Committee. Carter said the US forces will also be in a position to conduct unilateral operations in Syria.

“That creates a virtuous cycle of better intelligence, which generates more targets, more raids, more momentum.
The raids in Iraq will be done at the invitation of the Iraqi government and focused on defending its borders and building the ISF’s own capability,” he said.

“Next, we’re also significantly expanding US attacks on ISIS’s infrastructure and sources of revenue, particularly its oil revenue. Over the past several weeks, because of improved intelligence and understanding of ISIS’s financial operations, we’ve intensified the air campaign against ISIS’s war-sustaining oil enterprise, a critical pillar of ISIS’s financial infrastructure,” he said.

Carter said the US is constantly looking to do more in this fight but the world must do the same. “The international community, including our allies and partners, has to step up before another attack like Paris. France has been galvanised by the attacks on its capital and the French have intensified their role,” he said.

“Britain is debating expanded airstrikes. Italy has made important contributions in Iraq. Germany is making additional contributions. But we all, let me repeat, all must do more. Turkey must do more to control its often porous border,” the Defense Secretary said.

“Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States joined the air campaign in the early days but have since been preoccupied by the conflict in Yemen,” he said. Russia, which has publicly committed to defeating ISIL, has instead largely attacked opposition forces, not ISIL, he said, adding that it is time for Russia to focus on the right side of this fight.

“American leadership is essential but the more contributions we receive from other nations, the greater combat power we can achieve using our own force,” he said.

PTI