U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has made an unannounced visit to Baghdad for meetings with Iraqi officials and U.S. military commanders to seek ways to intensify the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants.
Carter said on December 16 at the start of his trip that he would receive an update on "the battlefield situation" and ways to "accelerate the campaign" to defeat IS fighters.
The United States announced plans this month to deploy elite American military teams to Iraq to conduct raids against Islamic State there and in neighboring Syria.
U.S. officials have also offered to send more advisers and Apache attack helicopters to Iraq to help retake the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, which are just west of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.
Frustration has grown over the failure to recapture Ramadi despite months of work by Iraqi and U.S. advisers to encircle the city, taken by IS forces seven months ago.
Carter said that during his trip he will also seek greater contributions from U.S. allies in fighting against IS forces.