WASHINGTON: The United States is aiming to help the Iraqi government battle an increasing threat from Al Qaeda linked terror groups with military sales and intelligence sharing, a US official said yesterday.
“We do want to help the Iraqis develop the capability to target these networks effectively and precisely,” the senior administration official said, after a two-hour meeting between US Vice President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki.
Unrest in Iraq has reached a level unseen since 2008 and killed more than 5,350 people this year, as Iraqi authorities have so far failed to curb daily attacks despite carrying out a swathe of operations and implementing several tightened security measures.
“It is a fact now that Al Qaeda has a presence in western Iraq and it has a presence in terms of camps and facilities and staging areas that the Iraqi forces are unable to target effectively,” the US official said, asking not to be named. Many militants were slipping into Iraq from Syria, armed with heavy weapons. Washington now had “a pretty good handle now on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant networks and where they are and where it’s coming from,” he said.
“We’re kind of increasing expert cooperation with the Iraqis in terms of developing that information base. But we really want to help the Iraqis have a better vision of what they face so they can target it effectively.”
US officials have already notified Congress of plans to sell Iraq “a major air defence system which allows them for the first time to take sovereign control of their air space which right now they don’t have,” the official said.AFP