Obama promises ramped-up assistance to Iraq

The Iraqi government and the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria need improved coordination to defeat the extremist group, President Obama said Monday. 

Obama met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on the sidelines of the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Germany, as the administration’s strategy to fight the extremist group has come under fire. 

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Obama said success is dependent on an “effective partnership” between Iraq and coalition partners, and stressed the need to “coordinate more effectively in getting weapons in the hands of” anti-ISIS forces. 

“The U.S. is going to continue to ramp up training and assistance,” Obama told reporters.

“I am confident that, although it is going to take time, we are going to be successful. ISIL is going to be driven out of Iraq and ultimately it is going to defeated,” said Obama, who used another acronym to describe the group.

The meeting between Obama and al-Abadi is the first since ISIS took control of the city of Ramadi last month, a major blow for the international coalition’s campaign against the group.

Al-Abadi called for greater international support for Iraqi ground forces during a meeting of coalition partners in Paris last week.

The Iraqi leader said he appealed for increased assistance in cutting off the group’s recruiting pipeline during meetings with G-7 officials over the weekend. 

“ISIL recruiting must be stopped, and this can be done via a global intelligence sharing effort,” Abadi said. 

There are approximately 3,000 U.S. troops training and equipping Iraqi forces, but they do not serve in combat roles.

In addition, the government has sent 2,000 anti-tank missiles to Iraq to help combat ISIS’s use of car bombs placed inside armored vehicles. The administration has also pledged to speed up other weapons shipments.

Last month, Iraqi officials were angered when Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Iraqi troops who were routed in Ramadi showed “no will to fight.” That prompted Vice President Biden to smooth over tensions and pledge support for Iraqi forces in a phone call with al-Abadi. 

Al-Abadi framed it as a temporary setback and expressed confidence Iraqi forces would fight to retake the city. 

“We lost only temporarily in Ramadi,” he said. ”We'll continue all our efforts.”