Iraqi Prime Minister: US ground forces not welcome in Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ruled out supporting the deployment of US ground forces in the country to fight against jihadist groups like Daesh, also known as ISIL, saying that while Iraq welcomes US training and support, it doesn’t need combat troops in the country.

“We do not need foreign ground combat forces on Iraqi land,” Abadi said in a statement, which comes after Washington hinted that it plans to extend anti-Daesh military operations on the ground in both Iraq and Syria.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the US would deploy a special expeditionary force to Iraq, and hinted that ground forces could be sent to Syria to assist in the international fight against Daesh. The US already has an estimated 3,500 troops in Iraq to “train and advise” local forces, with officials in Washington explicitly saying that American troops would not take part in active combat.

However, there has been speculation that US forces are already engaging in active fighting against Daesh in Iraq. Kurdish fighters reported to the Guardian that the US had been actively fighting against the jihadist group for months. US officials have denied the claim, however it has sparked concerns in Baghdad that Washington may be engaging in covert mission creep tactics by slowly increasing its ground presence in the country. …

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