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Hagel: Iraqi PM Wrong About Pace of US Weapons Supply



U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday disputed the Iraqi prime minister's complaint that the United States has been too slow in providing weapons and training to forces battling Islamic State militants.

Speaking at the Pentagon, Hagel said he thought Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's comments that Iraqis were "almost on our own" in the war were unhelpful.

"We have a coalition of over 60 countries that have come together to help Iraq, and I think the prime minister might want to be a little more mindful of that,'' he said.

The secretary said the Pentagon had quickly filled Baghdad's requests, moving more than 1,500 Hellfire missiles to Iraq and providing more than 250 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles. He said ammunition and other materiel were continuing to flow into Iraq at what he said was an accelerated rate.

The U.S. and other coalition partners have deployed troops to Iraq to train members of the Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi security forces. Hagel said three training sites were up and running and that a fourth would be operating soon.

Hagel said he had no verification of reports that 6,000 Islamic State insurgents had been killed since U.S.-led airstrikes began in August. But he did say that thousands had died, including some Islamic State commanders.

Representatives from 21 coalition members met Thursday in London, where Abadi said Iraqi forces were making progress but needed more weapons.

He also said the global drop in oil prices had been disastrous for the Iraqi economy. He said 85 percent of Iraq's economy depends on oil.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Iraqi ground forces backed by international coalition partners have made significant gains in the fight against Islamic State militants, including, in some cases, halting or reversing the group's momentum.

In recent days, Kurdish fighters, with the help of the U.S.-led coalition, have pushed back IS militants in parts of northern Iraq, as well as cut off a key supply route to their occupied city of Mosul.

VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this report.

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