Hagel touches down in Baghdad for official visit

Hagel touches down in Baghdad for official visit
With Iraqi and Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State group, United States secretary of defence landed in Baghdad to discuss possible arms supplies and a deployment of US soldiers to the country.
2 min read
09 December, 2014
Chuck Hagel has been visited US troops [Getty]

Outgoing US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel arrived in Baghdad today, on an unannounced visit to Iraq. The visit comes after Lt Gen James Terry announced that 1,500 more coalition troops would be sent to Iraq.

US soldiers have been advising and training Iraqi forces battling Islamic State group fighters in northern Iraq, along with Kurdish Peshmerga.

As soon as he stepped off the plane, Hagel addressed US and Australian troops at the Baghdad airport.

"The United States and its allies can help the Iraqis in the fight against IS, but it is the Iraqi government who will lead the campaign in the end. It's their country and they have the reasonability to run it," he told the crowd.

A member of Iraq's parliamentary committee on security told al-Araby al-Jadeed that Hagel's visit to Baghdad would have two purposes. "First, to discuss the security plans in Iraq with the American experts, and to discuss the developments and what has been achieved during the past period.

"The second, which will be the main objective of the visit, will be discussing sending a ground force of 1,500 troops to Iraq, in coordination with the Iraqi government," he added.

Baghdad has in the past agreed to immunity from prosecution for US soldiers deployed to Iraq. Media reports state that the new prime minister has also agreed to the this, despite initial reluctance.

     Baghdad has in the past agreed to the immunity from prosecution for US soldiers deployed to Iraq .

"Hagel will see the reality of the security situation in Iraq," said Hassan Jihad, a member of the parliamentary commission on security and defence.

"He will also hear opinions from US advisers on the Iraqi military's capabilities and the security situation in general. Hagel was the one who oversaw the international coalition campaign in Iraq."

Jihad said that the defence secretary would discuss arming the Peshmerga with Kurdish officials. This comes after the US administration set aside a budget for weapons to Iraqi and the Peshmerga forces.

"The Peshmerga will be armed with heavy weapons this time, because they demonstrated high abilities to fight. So you will see guns, armoured vehicles and rocket launchers, and other weapons that will enable them to achieve more progress than the Islamic State group has achieved."