US defense chief Carter makes surprise visit to Baghdad

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday for talks with US military commanders, seeking ways to intensify the fight against Islamic State militants.

Baghdad: US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday for talks with US military commanders, seeking ways to intensify the fight against Islamic State militants.

Carter said earlier, at the start of his trip to the Middle East, that he would be speaking to commanders to "get their latest reading on the battlefield situation and also very importantly their thinking about ways that we can continue to accelerate the campaign to defeat ISIL".

Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL, is a Sunni hardline group that has seized swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. 

Carter’s trip comes amid growing signs of US moves to step up its military campaign against the group, which has claimed responsibility for attacks in the West, including bombings and shootings which killed 130 people in Paris last month.

This month, the United States announced plans to deploy elite American military teams to Iraq to conduct raids against Islamic State there and in neighbouring Syria. 

The United States has said it is willing to deploy advisors and attack helicopters to help Iraqi security forces retake the city of Ramadi from Islamic State. 

Carter said his trip was also aimed at asking US allies for greater contributions in the military campaign against Islamic State.

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