Wednesday 28 September 2016

Obama: US still working on IS plan

Published 08/06/2015 | 17:01

President Barack Obama speaks during a media conference at the conclusion of the G7 summit. (AP)
President Barack Obama speaks during a media conference at the conclusion of the G7 summit. (AP)

President Barack Obama says the Pentagon is still working on a plan to accelerate the fight against Islamic State fighters in Iraq.

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Mr Obama said: "we do not yet have a complete strategy." He added that is because the plan requires commitments from the Iraqis.

Mr Obama said one problem is a lack of Iraqi recruits in some areas where the US-led campaign is ready to train fighters.

He said another key is getting Sunni tribes to do more to counter the Islamic State. The president says those tribes have had successes but not quickly enough.

The fight against the Islamic State was among the issues discussed during Mr Obama's two days of meetings with world leaders at the Group of Seven summit in Germany.

Earlier, the president met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Mr Obama said the Pentagon was reviewing plans to ramp up training and assistance to the Iraqi forces but there must be full commitment from the Iraqis.

He said the 3,000 Americans in Iraq to help train local forces sometimes find themselves with "more training capacity than we've got recruits".

"We want to get more Iraqi security forces trained, fresh, well-equipped, and focused," he said.

The president said that Iraqi troops who have been trained by the US and are properly equipped are more likely to perform well, but that those who have not received good training often suffer from poor morale and other issues that affect them on the battlefield.

US officials cited a lack of American training as a driving factor last month when the Iraqi military suffered stunning defeats in Ramadi.

The fall of Ramadi raised fresh concerns about the Iraqi forces, which had been making gains in recent months. Defence secretary Ash Carter blamed the loss of the key city in part on the Iraqis' lack of a "will to fight".

The US has been pushing Iraq's Shiite-led government to be more inclusive of Sunnis and encourage them to both rebuff the Islamic State and take a more prominent role in fighting the militants.

"It has not been happening as fast as it needs to," Mr Obama said.

Mr al-Abadi was among the non-G7 leaders invited to attend the summit in the Bavarian Alps.

The president has been complimentary of him, saying the prime minister recognises the need to supplement US security assistance with political changes that alleviate sectarian tensions in Iraq.

Press Association

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