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Top U.S. Military Officer Says Iraqi Forces Can Defend Baghdad

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey (right) speaks next to U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Washington on July 3.

The U.S. military's top officer, Martin Dempsey, says Iraqi forces have strengthened their defenses around Baghdad and are capable of defending the capital.

But Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on July 3 that Iraqi forces would need outside help to eventually regain territory lost to Sunni militants.

Dempsey, who was speaking at a press conference at the Pentagon in Washington, also said the United States won't be involved in combat operations in Iraq.

That echoes U.S. President Barack Obama's recent statements.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking at the same news conference, said about 200 U.S. military advisers are now in Iraq.,

He said they are assessing the situation as the Iraqi government seeks to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP