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U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in Baghdad in unannounced visit

By Amy R. Connolly
U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in Baghdad in unannounced visit
U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other military commanders to learn more about the progress in Mosul, the IS's s last major stronghold in Iraq. Photo by U.S. Department of Defense/Twitter

BAGHDAD, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made an unannounced visit to Iraq Saturday as U.S.-backed forces are moving to take back Mosul from Islamic State militants.

Carter, in his third visit to Iraq this year, arrived as the battle to remove the IS from its last major stronghold in Iraq enters the sixth day. Officials said Iraqi and Kurdish forces are moving in on Mosul while about 5,000 U.S. troops are assisting to eliminate the militant group, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.

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Carter met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other military commanders to learn more about the progress in Mosul, the militant group's last major stronghold in Iraq.

"I don't expect this to be an exclusively rosy report every single day," a senior defense official told the Wall Street Journal before Carter's departure from Washington. "We're expecting tough moments, as we've seen in a number of other places in the counter-ISIL campaign."

The meeting comes as troops advance on the largely Christian town of Qaraqosh, also known as Bakhdida, located about 12 miles southeast of Mosul.

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