Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis arrived in Iraq Tuesday in an unannounced visit, media reports said as Iraq launches an offensive against another Islamic State haven.
The visit comes as Iraqi offensive launched Sunday to retake the town of Tal Afar, Islamic State’s last holdout in Nineveh province which the group held since 2014.
Mattis had previously said in statements in Amman that the battle against Islamic State militants was far from over, adding that following Tal Afar offensives, the Iraqi troop would aim at IS’s havens west of the Euphrates river.
The United States has led a military coalition of more than 60 world countries battling Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
“U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mattis, who will meet Abadi and Defense Minister Arfan al-Hayali, would discuss the future of U.S. forces in Iraq after the fall of the remaining cities under Islamic State and the role they could play in stabilizing operations.” Reuters said Tuesday.
U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have been battling IS militants who declared a “caliphate” rule in Iraq and Syria in 2014. The group lost its caliphate’s capital, Mosul, to Iraqi forces early July.