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Iraqi PM to US: We Don't Need Your Boots on the Ground to Fight Daesh

© Flickr / The U.S. ArmyU.S. Army Spc. Kon Im and his squad move through an open-air market during a foot patrol in Baqubah, Iraq, April 5, 2007.
U.S. Army Spc. Kon Im and his squad move through an open-air market during a foot patrol in Baqubah, Iraq, April 5, 2007. - Sputnik International
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ruled out supporting the deployment of US ground forces in the country to fight against jihadist groups like Daesh, also known as ISIL, saying that while Iraq welcomes US training and support, it doesn't need combat troops in the country.

"We do not need foreign ground combat forces on Iraqi land," Abadi said in a statement, which comes after Washington hinted that it plans to extend anti-Daesh military operations on the ground in both Iraq and Syria.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the US would deploy a special expeditionary force to Iraq, and hinted that ground forces could be sent to Syria to assist in the international fight against Daesh.

The US already has an estimated 3,500 troops in Iraq to "train and advise" local forces, with officials in Washington explicitly saying that American troops would not take part in active combat.

However, there has been speculation that US forces are already engaging in active fighting against Daesh in Iraq. Kurdish fighters reported to the Guardian that the US had been actively fighting against the jihadist group for months.

Hovering U.S. Army helicopters pour machine gun fire into the tree line to cover the advance of South Vietnamese ground troops in an attack on a Viet Cong camp 18 miles north of Tay Ninh, northwest of Saigon near the Cambodian border, in March 1965 during the Vietnam War - Sputnik International
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US officials have denied the claim, however it has sparked concerns in Baghdad that Washington may be engaging in covert mission creep tactics by slowly increasing its ground presence in the country.

Many in Baghdad are wary of an increase in US intervention, following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, as a lot of Iraqis remain highly skeptical of Washington's intentions in the region.

Any deployment of official US combat troops in Iraq would face opposition from Shia militias aligned to the Iraqi government, who have warned they would resist a significant American presence in the country.

"We will chase and fight any American force deployed in Iraq. Any such American force will become a primary target for our group. We fought them before, and we are ready to resume fighting," Jafaar Hussaini, spokesman for one of the Shia armed groups, Kata'ib Hezbollah, told Reuters.

"All Iraqis look to (the Americans) as occupiers who are not trustworthy," Muen al-Kadhimi, a senior aide to the militia leader of the Badr Organization, said.

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