Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is in Iraq.
David Lerman (Bloomberg News) reports:
Ashton Carter made his first visit to Iraq as U.S. defense secretary Thursday to review the military offensive against Islamic State extremists, including a plan to retake the town of Ramadi.
After arriving in Baghdad, the Pentagon chief was scheduled to meet with top Iraqi officials, U.S. troops and Sunni tribal leaders for what he told reporters would be an “on-the-ground assessment” of the effort to defeat Islamic State.
David Welna covers the visit for NPR on Morning Edition. Phil Stewart (Reuters) adds:
Carter said he sought to form "my own on-the-ground assessment of the campaign".
"I will be doing my own conferring with our military commanders," Carter told reporters ahead of his trip.
AP covers the visit here.
Most of the reports note Ramadi and efforts to retake the recently seized city.
Falluja is overlooked.
More importantly, where's Haditha?
Loveday Morris' "This town has resisted Islamic State for 18 months. But food is running low" (Washington Post) noted this week:
The people of Haditha, though, are struggling to survive in a town largely cut off from the outside world. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has singled it out as its next target.
"It’s like we’re not living in Iraq," said one resident, Israa Mohammed, 38, as she waited to receive a rare delivery of food aid last week. "There’s no way in or out. It’s like we are an island in the desert."
The first group of reporters to gain access to Haditha in more than a year found the besieged city in desperate straits. With gasoline more than quadruple the national price, bicycles are a more common sight than cars on its winding streets.
Doctors have fled, and medicines are hard to come by. Electricity flickers on for just three hours a day.
With the Islamic State having stated Haditha is the next target, you'd think it would rate a mention in the coverage.
More importantly, the never-ending Iraq war? It's 12 years since the 2003 US-led invasion.
And Ash Carter has to sneak into Iraq?
All this time later, US officials still have to dart in and out of Iraq?
That tells you everything you need to know about the continued lack of security in Iraq.
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