US steps up assistance to Iraq to combat terrorist groups
Washington: The US has stepped up assistance to Iraq to combat al-Qaeda-linked global terrorist groups who have seized the oil-rich country`s two major cities in the western province of Al-Anbar, the White House has said.
"The administration is deeply engaged in efforts to consult with the Iraqi government and also to step up assistance to the Iraqi government in their effort to combat international terrorist groups operating in Anbar province, and that effort continues," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.
He Thursday said Vice President Joe Biden has been in constant communication with top Iraqi leaders on this issue.
"Those kinds of consultations are ongoing as we provide assistance to sovereign government of Iraq in its important effort to combat these al-Qaeda groups and international terrorist operations, because the overwhelming majority of Iraqis - no matter whether they`re Shiite or Sunni, no matter their political views - want to be rid of al-Qaeda," he said.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), commonly known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, seized both Fallujah and Ramadi, two major cities in Al-Anbar, last week.
The Iraqi security forces took back Ramadi on Monday, but sporadic clashes continued on the outskirts of the city.
The House of Representative Speaker, John Boehner, urged President Barack Obama to be more engaged in Iraq.
"I know that Speaker Boehner opposed candidate Obama`s promise to end the war in Iraq. I know that. Maybe he still does. Maybe he thinks that American men and women in uniform ought to be fighting today in Anbar. That`s a disagreement that may continue to exist. I don`t know," Carney said.
President Obama, he said, made a commitment to end the war in Iraq. He fulfilled that commitment.
"We, as a nation, continue to have an important relationship with Iraq and the Iraqi government, and commitment to assist the sovereign nation of Iraq in the ways that we are assisting the government now, both through materiel assistance and through the good offices that we bring to bear in urging the various political leaders in that country to work together to resolve what has always been, or what has always demanded a political solution here," he said.
"What we are hopefully seeing now - and it is still a very fluid situation - is an effort to reinvigorate that process, where Sunni tribes and others are being encouraged by and assisted by the Iraqi government to deal with a common problem here, which is the presence of, and destructive presence of the al-Qaeda affiliate that is doing so much - wreaking so much havoc in Anbar," he said.
Carney said the US is very mindful of the fact that this al-Qaeda affiliate has created a lot of chaos and carnage in Anbar Province.
"That`s why we are engaged in the effort we are to assist the Iraqi government to help them expel that presence," he told reporters in response to a question.
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