Iraq has not requested the deployment of foreign troops in the country to combat the Islamic State group, a senior Iraqi government official said, on Thursday, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama requested Congress to formally approve the use of military force against ISIS. In his proposal, Obama had reportedly sought powers for U.S. special forces to carry out ground operations in “unforeseen circumstances.”
“We have never asked for a ground forces contribution … what we have agreed with the international coalition partners is to provide assistance on the aerial support, training, advising and intelligence information sharing in addition to providing humanitarian assistance,” Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Iraqi foreign minister, reportedly said, after a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Sydney on Thursday.
“The message that Iraq has submitted to the (United Nations) Security Council never included a request for ground forces to enter Iraqi territory to conduct such operations,” al-Jaafari added.
The U.S. military and Australia, along with several Western nations that are part of a broad anti-ISIS coalition, have been carrying out airstrikes on ISIS strongholds in northern Iraq. In addition, the U.S. has also deployed nearly 2,600 American troops in the country to provide aid and training to the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces.
Al-Jaafari claimed that the Iraqi army had made significant advances against ISIS in recent weeks, resulting in a drastic “diminution of capability” of the militant group, according to media reports.
“There is no doubt that the Iraqi armed forces need aerial support, in addition to intelligence information,” al-Jaafari reportedly said. He also added that the army is about to begin a “major war” against ISIS, suggesting that the launch of ground operations to retake ISIS-held cities such as Mosul and Tikrit could be imminent.