MOSCOW, November 15 (Sputnik) — General Martin E. Dempsey, the US highest-ranking military officer has arrived in Baghdad on Saturday, November 15.
"The visit by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was not previously announced. It came just two days after he told Congress that the United States would consider dispatching a modest number of American forces to fight with Iraqi troops in the campaign against the Islamic State group, which controls about a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria," the Associated Press reported.
The media outlet underscores that it is General Dempsey's first visit to Iraq since the beginning of the US-led military campaign against the Islamic State.
It is worth mentioning that General Dempsey, the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have repeatedly taken part in the US military missions in Iraq. In 1991, he deployed with the Third Armored Division in support of Operation Desert Storm. Later, between 2003 and 2004, General Dempsey was in command of the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad. In 2005, he returned to Iraq in order to train and equip the Iraqi Security Forces and had been serving as Commanding General of MNSTC-I (Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq) for two years.
The Iraqi military and security forces had initially failed to put up strong resistance to the IS jihadi groups, which had captured vast territories in northern and western Iraq. However, the US top military leader emphasized on Thursday, November 13, that Iraqi forces were "doing a better job." "Soon I think we will be able to describe it as a good job in al Anbar and moving north out of Baghdad and the [Kurdish Peshmerga] moving south," he said as cited by the Joint Chiefs of Staff official web source.
"Broadly, our strategy is to reinforce a credible partner in the Iraqi government and assist regional stakeholders to address the 20 million disenfranchised Sunnis who live between Damascus and Baghdad. They have to reject ISIL's radical ideology from within," the general stressed.
According to the Associated Press, General Dempsey confirmed that the US has already deployed a "modest footprint" in Iraq and is most likely to expand it by sending an "equally modest" contingent of the American troops to the conflict zone.
It should be noted that Washington is considering the plan to increase the total number of the US boots on the ground in Iraq to 3,100. "There are currently about 1,400 US troops there, out of the 1,600 previously authorized," the media outlet reported earlier this week.
Remarkably, the US top military officer's visit to Iraq has coincided with Iraqi forces' battlefield success: Iraqi military personnel have expelled the ISIL insurgents from Beiji, a strategic "oil refinery town," located about 130 miles north of Baghdad. Furthermore, a "significant progress" has been recently achieved by Kurdish military in Kobani.
However, the Associated Press has reported of two blasts in the north of Baghdad, resulting in the deaths of six and leaving about 25 injured. According to local police officials, the perpetrators were targeting Iraqi military and security personnel at a checkpoint.