As Trump seeks new options in war against ISIS, Pentagon says Iraqis refuse to engage US troops in direct combat

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US President Donald Trump seeks new options to intensify war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. File photo

ARA News

With President Donald Trump’s first visit to the Pentagon on Friday to discuss options to intensify anti-Islamic State (ISIS) campaign and sending in more ground troops, US-led coalition said that Iraqis do not need US soldiers to fight ISIS.

The US-led coalition releases daily press reports on coalition air strikes against ISIS. However, it now also adds that the Iraqis do not desire Western ground troops to fight ISIS.

“The Iraqi Security Forces are leading the Coalition’s fight to rid Iraq of ISIS. They are willing to take the brunt of the fighting to liberate their country and do not seek or desire the Coalition’s participation in direct ground combat operations,” the coalition has been emphasising in its press releases since Wednesday.

“The Government of Iraq welcomes the Coalition because we are assisting them with our unique capabilities, at their request,” it said.

The Pentagon will provide president Donald Trump with military plans to accelerate the war against ISIS in the Middle East by sending in hundreds or thousands of troops into direct combat.

Under the Obama administration, coalition soldiers used to provide advisory assistance to local forces fighting the Islamic State, but not play any direct combat role. The former president Barack Obama was not willing to increase the risk for US troops on the ground.

Several coalition soldiers died in combat in both Iraq and Syria.

“It does follow Saturday’s remarks by Trump about taking the [Iraqi] oil. And it comes in light of the news of possible additional US troops to the war on ISIS,” Ben Watson, news editor for Defense One told ARA News.

Although Iraqis have often expressed opposition to a US military presence on the ground in Iraq, most pro-Western Kurds have been in favour of a US military presence on the ground and have even called for establishing US military bases in Kurdistan to protect the stateless Kurds against their hostile neighbours.

Also, the Kurdish security chief Masrour Barzani in the past talked about the need for more coalition ground forces to fight ISIS.

“So there must be some ground forces so they can go after them, to fight them. It depends on how quickly the West wants to destroy ISIS. If they want to do it quickly, then there is a need for efficient and effective ground forces to go after them [ISIS],” Barzani said in 2015.

“If they [Coalition] are waiting for the local forces to be ready to do this job then it will take a longer time,” he said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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