US Defense Secretary warns of "long-fought" battle in Iraq

Posted February 22, 2017

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis welcomed the naming of Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond McMaster as the new national security adviser, a Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday.

Mr Trump has repeatedly said during his campaign and since his election that America, whose troops occupied Iraq for eight years, should have grabbed Iraqi oil to help fund its war effort and to deprive ISIL of a vital revenue source. Some have argued that the Iraq war launched by former President George W. Bush was an attempt by his Vice President Dick Cheney to profit US corporation, s including oil and gas giant Halliburton, the company where Cheney served as chief executive from 1995 until he left in 2000 to run for vice president. No, he says, despite popular vote loser Donald Trump's obsession about their oil, we're not going after it.

Hundreds of USA troops are already in Iraq, serving as trainers and advisers, in an attempt to help the country win the battle against IS militants in Mosul.

The four month-long fight for Mosul has left about 700-thousand civilians trapped.

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"It's at times wildly contentious, it's at times quite sporting, but the bottom line is this is the best form of government we can come up with", Mr Mattis told reporters in Abu Dhabi during his first trip to the region as Pentagon chief.

"The US forces continue in the same role as they did in East Mosul", Mattis said. On January 28, Trump signed an executive order calling for the defense secretary to submit within 30 days a draft of a new plan to defeat ISIS.

The timing of the visit was also critical, Wing said.

That fight went up a gear on Sunday with the start of a major operation by the Iraqi security forces to liberate the western side of Mosul, once Iraq's second-largest city. The Iraqi military has been offering support to the United States to fight IS in Iraq. Among them: putting more troops in Iraq and Syria and boosting military aid to Kurdish fighters backed by the USA -led coalition.

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Earlier this month, top United States commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a few thousand more troops are needed in Afghanistan to train and advise Afghan forces.

In Syria, a possible option would be to send more USA forces, including combat troops, there as the Raqqa fight heats up.

There are more than 5,100 US military personnel in Iraq, and up to about 500 in Syria.

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