ARBIL: Pentagon chief Ashton Carter met Iraqi Kurdish president Massud Barzani Friday on the second day of a trip to Iraq aimed at reviewing efforts to defeat the Islamic State group.
The US defence secretary reiterated his commitment to assisting the autonomous northern Iraqi region, which has been at the forefront of efforts to counter the militants.
Carter “commended President Barzani on the battlefield successes they’ve achieved on the ground in coordination with US and coalition air power,” a Pentagon statement said.
Several high-ranking Kurdish military officials attended the talks in the Kurdish capital Arbil with Carter, on his first trip to Iraq since taking office earlier this year.
The threat posed to Arbil by an IS advance in early August 2014 was one of the reasons cited by US President Barack Obama for announcing US air strikes days later.
An international coalition has since developed and carried out thousands of air strikes, many in support of Kurdish peshmerga forces fighting IS on the ground.
More than 1,200 Kurdish peshmerga fighters have been killed in fighting with IS, which last year swept into several areas controlled by the Kurds, who are now trying to take them back.
Many of the 3,500 US advisers and trainers that have been deployed to Iraq in the past year are stationed in Kurdistan.
Carter was due to address some of them before flying out and wrapping up his tour of the Middle East.
He was in Baghdad on Thursday and met several Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and his counterpart Khaled al-Obeidi.