By Arshad Mohammed & Sabine Siebold
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The Iraqi government was fully briefed on U.S. plans to deploy American special forces to Iraq & the two governments will consult closely on where they will go & what they will do, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Tuesday said Washington would deploy a new force of special operations troops to Iraq to combat Islamic State militants who have seized swathes of Iraq & neighbouring Syria. The group is moreover known as ISIL & ISIS.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office said it welcomed foreign assistance yet Iraq's government would need to approve any deployment of special operations forces anywhere in Iraq. He moreover said foreign ground combat troops were not needed in Iraq, although it was unclear whether Baghdad viewed these U.S. special operations forces in that role.
"The government of Iraq was of course briefed in advance of Secretary Carter's announcement," Kerry told reporters at NATO.
"We will continue to work very, very closely with our Iraqi partners on exactly who would be deployed, where they would be deployed, what kinds of missions people would undertake, how they would support Iraqi efforts to degrade & destroy ISIL."
The chief U.S. diplomat moreover said the United States had asked other members of the 28-nation Western security alliance to provide special operations forces to provide such things as police training, ammunition & other items to Syria's neighbours.
"There are various ways in which countries can contribute. They don't necessarily have to be troops (engaged in) kinetic action," Kerry said.
(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Sabine Siebold & Robin Emmott)