Top U.S. military brass to visit Iraq

Aug. 20, 2012 at 9:41 AM
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BAGRAM, Afghanistan, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- The Iraqi military may need additional development as it closes its first year without direct support from U.S. forces, the top U.S. commander said.

U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced plans from Afghanistan to meet this week with top Iraqi officials and U.S. military leaders serving as advisers in Iraq.

U.S. military forces left Iraq in December under the terms of a bilateral defense agreement with Baghdad, ending nearly a decade of military engagement.

Dempsey said in a statement he felt that "that after seeing what the last eight months without us looks like -- and I don't mean we are coming back to Iraq -- but their capabilities may require yet additional development and they are reaching out to us to see if we can help with that."

The U.S. Defense Department said at least 92 people were killed in attacks in Iraq in the days leading up to Eid al-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Dempsey added that he was wary of Iranian influence in Iraq given conflict in the Middle East.

"My judgment is that if Iran's position erodes in Syria, they will try to increase it in Iraq," he said.

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