U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday the latest American combat death in Iraq shows the military campaign against ISIS is “far from over.”
Carter made the remark as he convened a meeting in the German city of Stuttgart of his counterparts from 11 countries contributing to the military campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
U.S. Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV, who was advising Kurdish forces in Iraq, died on Tuesday in an ISIS attack near the city of Irbil.
The elite serviceman was the third American to be killed in direct combat since a U.S.-led coalition launched a campaign in 2014 to “degrade and destroy” ISIS.
Wednesday’s session in Germany was the latest in a series with partners on strategies for increasing assistance to the Iraqis as they seek to recapture the northern ISIS stronghold of Mosul.
The coalition leading the military campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq agreed to accelerate their contributions but did not publicly specify what those would be.
The group also called on Iraqi leaders to reconcile political differences.
“Our overall approach is to enable local forces to do the fighting … but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to do any fighting at all,” Carter said.
“We are putting these people are risk every day,” including the aircrews who are flying strike missions daily over Iraq and Syria, “and, tragically, losses will occur,” he added.
Carter said Monday that as the Iraqis gain battlefield momentum the Pentagon will pursue additional ways to support them.
He said the Defense Department welcomes the fact that local forces in Iraq are moving toward Mosul.
This comes as a political crisis in Baghdad clouds the outlook for further military advances against the militants.
Carter has placed a high priority on drawing coalition members more deeply into the counter-ISIS campaign, stressing the threat posed by allowing the extremists to spread their influence.