US military chief in Baghdad amid Iraqi offensive

AFP , Monday 9 Mar 2015

Dempsey
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey applauds during a ceremonial swearing in ceremony for Defense Secretary Ash Carter at the Pentagon in Washington March 6, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

The US military's top officer landed in Baghdad on Monday as Iraqi forces battle the Islamic State group in their largest operation to date against the militants.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, flew in on a C-17 military transport aircraft. He was due to hold talks with top Iraqi officials.

During a visit to the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the Gulf on Sunday, Dempsey appealed for "strategic patience" in the fight against IS.

He said the training of Iraqi troops and the Baghdad government's willingness to reconcile with the country's Sunni population and leaders were key factors.

Dempsey, whose country launched its first strikes against the militants in Iraq in August last year, also said that intensifying air strikes was not an option.

"Carpet bombing through Iraq is not the answer," he said aboard the Charles de Gaulle. France became the second Western nation to carry out strikes in Iraq last year.

He also said he saw no need to deploy more military advisers than the 2,600 already on the ground in Iraq.

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