The US has called on its allies to intensify their effort against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group while also expressing its willingness to support Iraqi forces with attack helicopters in Ramadi.
Ashton Carter, the US defence secretary, made the calls for broader international action at a congressional hearing in which he outlined stepped-up US military efforts against ISIL following the attacks in Paris and California.
“The international community – including our allies and partners – has to step up before another attack like Paris,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.
“Turkey must do more to control its often porous border. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states joined the air portion of the campaign in the early days – only the air part – but have since been preoccupied by the conflict in Yemen.
“And just this past week, I personally reached out to my counterparts in 40 countries to ask them to contribute and, in many cases, contribute much more to enhancing the fight against ISIL.”
Iraqi forces have been fighting for months to close in around Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, and took a large part of the key city on Tuesday.
Carter said that it has taken a “frustratingly long time” for Iraqi security forces to claw back territory.
But he pointed to significant gains, including recapturing the Anbar Operations Centre on the northern bank of the Euphrates River in the past 24 hours.
But as Iraqi forces cemented their hold on the newly recaptured al-Tameem area, an ISIL suicide bomber killed at least eight people in Baghdad.
“The United States is prepared to assist the Iraqi army with additional unique capabilities to help them finish the job, including attack helicopters and accompanying advisers,” Carter said.
He said it would be done “if circumstances dictate and if requested by Prime Minister [Haider] al-Abadi”.
The US has recently announced plans to deploy elite American military teams to Iraq and Syria, and Carter told the Senate hearing that he was in touch with coalition partners to ask them to contribute special operations forces.
Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said Carter’s comments came as a surprise because “for the last five years, the allies have been begging the US to get more involved in Syria” .
” The GCC allies, including Turkey, who would want to act in Syria won’t be able to do such a thing without the leadership of the US,” he said.
“This is another way by the US to get more people on board. Because maybe the US now is more interested in doing the job.”