Aspirin for advanced cancer: Carter in Baghdad says ‘expect to see us doing more’

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The U.S. is sending more troops and attack helicopters to Iraq in preparation for the “end game” in Mosul against Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.

“We are looking to do more,” Carter said on April 18. “That ranges from in the air to on the ground. You should expect to see us doing more.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, and his Iraqi counterpart Khaled al-Obeidi review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Ministry of Defense, Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, April 18. /AP
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, right, and his Iraqi counterpart Khaled al-Obeidi met at the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad on April 18. /AP

Carter said the new U.S. troops would be mainly advisers and will assist with the logistics of advancing Iraqi troops as they encircle Iraq’s second largest city.

“Everyone knows the fight of Iraq is the fight for Mosul,” a senior U.S. defense official said. “Mosul is the end game in Iraq.”

The U.S. has deployed eight Apache attack helicopters and the troops who are needed to fly and maintain them to aid in the battle for Mosul.

Also on April 18, Carter announced the U.S. will increase funding for Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq, with a senior official saying the amount will be about $400 million.

During his visit to Baghdad, Carter met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obaidi before speaking with Kurdish President Masoud Barzani.

“The Iraqis are not shy about asking for what they need,” a senior defense official said. “Our generals, our colonels, they are sitting next to the Iraqis.”

Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told VOA the U.S. strategy seemed to be “containing” Islamic State, which continues to lose ground in Iraq and Syria, but worries that needed improvements to the strategy could come “too little, too late.”

“When it comes to the fight against the Islamic State, it’s almost as if we diagnosed with cancer at Stage One and then sat about arguing about whether or not we should prescribe an aspirin for the next four-five years while it metastasized to Stage Four,” Rubin said.

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