Ash Carter in Baghdad

Ash Carter in BaghdadAsh Carter in Baghdad

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Monday to meet US military commanders and Iraqi officials, as Washington seeks to capitalize on the recent seizure of a major airbase close to Mosul, the largest Iraqi city still controlled by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.

US officials said Carter would meet Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi, as well as US Army Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, the head of the US-led coalition battling IS in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Iraqi government forces said on Saturday they took back control of the Qayara airbase, 60 km south of Mosul.