Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has requested more air power and additional weaponry from the US, to support its fight against the Islamic State (IS).
The appeal to US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel highlights a disagreement over war strategy between Iraq and US, which favours a limited air campaign until Iraqi security forces are able to hold on to territory and conduct major offensives, Agence France-Presse reported.
Haider al-Abadi said: "Daesh (Islamic State) is on the descent at the moment. We are very thankful for the support that’s been given to us.
"Our forces are very much advancing on the ground. But they need more air power and more … heavy weaponry. We need that."
The prime minister was quoted by Associated Press as saying that IS has acquired extensive weaponry and is moving back and forth between Iraq and Syria, contradicting US claims that the coalition air strikes have severely hampered the group’s ability to resupply their fighters in Iraq.
Hagel confirmed the request was made but refused to say whether it would be granted, and also noted that the US has accelerated the delivery of Hellfire missiles and mine-resistant armoured vehicles to Iraq.
The request follows comments from US commander lieutenant general James Terry, who said the US and its allies will deploy an additional 1,500 soldiers to Iraq.
Terry, who commands a joint task force overseeing military operations in Iraq and Syria, said the soldiers will be in addition to 3,100 military personnel that the US has already promised for an advisory mission, and will increase the effectiveness of the Iraqi Army, BBC News reported.
"While [the Iraqi security forces] have a long way to go, I think they’re becoming more capable every day," said Terry.
"When you start now to balance the different capabilities out across the coalition, I think we’re doing pretty well in terms of boots on the ground."
Supported by nearly 60 allies, the US has been conducting air strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria since August.
Image: US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks to reporters during a press briefing in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo: courtesy of the US Department of Defense.