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Mosul Battle Tops Agenda As U.S. Defense Secretary Meets Iraqi PM


U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 9.

The ongoing battle to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul topped the agenda for U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter as he met with Iraq's prime minister and other officials in Baghdad.

The Pentagon said on December 11 that Carter and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi discussed the next steps in the Mosul operation. They also talked about the need to for close cooperation between the Iraqi government and Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region.

The battle to retake Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, from Islamic State militants is turning into a pivotal moment both for the Abadi government but also for the U.S.-led fight against the militants in Iraq and Syria.

After launching the assault in October, Iraqi security forces, bolstered by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shi'ite militias, have encountered tough resistance within the city.

Islamic State militants have peppered the city with underground tunnels, improvised explosives, trenches, and other defenses.

The army has recaptured about a quarter of the city but has faced counterattacks by the militants.

Carter was also slated to meet with Kurdish leader Masud Barzani and the commander of the U.S.-led coalition supporting Iraqi forces, U.S. Lieutenant General Steve Townsend.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters