Iraq has said that any deployment of foreign troops on its soil cannot happen without approval of its government.
The Iraqi prime minister’s comments came in response to the earlier announcement by Ashton Carter, US defence secretary, that the US will deploy “specialised” troops to Iraq to help fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
“We do not need foreign ground combat forces on Iraqi land,” Haider al-Abbadi said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The Iraqi government stresses that any military operation or the deployment of any foreign forces – special or not – in any place in Iraq cannot happen without its approval and coordination and full respect of Iraqi sovereignty.”
Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, the Pentagon chief had said a “specialised expeditionary targeting force” was being deployed to help Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
“In full coordination with the government of Iraq, we’re deploying a specialised expeditionary targeting force to assist Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and to put even more pressure on ISIL,” Carter said on Tuesday.
“American special operators bring a unique suite of capabilities that make them force multipliers. They will help us garner valuable ground intelligence, further enhance our air campaign and, above all, enable local forces that can regain and then hold territory occupied by ISIL.”
Carter said the special forces would also be able to intervene in Syria, where the US has already announced it is sending about 50 special operations troops.
Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington DC, said that the number of additional troops to be sent is still unknown.
“We don’t know yet how many forces are going to be deployed,” she said. “The Iraqi government wants US troops to be helping with the effort and move ISIL off its territory.
“In Syria, the US president has approved a plan to send in special forces, but is doing so without the consent of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and that’s something that has angered Assad since the coalition launched air strikes more than a year ago.”
Carter’s comments come as the British parliament prepares to debate whether the Royal Air Force should start bombing in Syria.
Extra planes could be sent to Cyprus if MPs vote on whether to extend British military intervention against ISIL.
If successfully passed by the MPs on Wednesday, British fighter jets will be allowed to extend their campaign against ISIL fighters in Iraq to neighbouring Syria, where the group has its headquarters in the city of Raqqa.
David Cameron, UK prime minister, called for military intervention in ISIL-held areas of Syria after the group’s attacks in Paris on November 13, which left 130 people dead.