The United States has delayed its plans to deploy 1,500 more troops to conflict-stricken Iraq, due in part to a lack of a budget and opposition from congress, officials quoted by online U.S. news outlet World Tribune reported on Sunday.
Around 1,600 troops serve in Iraq, mostly in advisory or force protection roles.
In a briefing last month, Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said that “deployment orders have not been issued yet.”
Since taking power in September last year, current premier Haider al-Abadi has moved too slowly in mobilizing Sunni tribes the fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, U.S. officials say.
“We want the Iraqis to do that,” Kirby said, as quoted by the World Tribune.
“That’s part and parcel of the whole advise-and-assist mission: to help them be more inclusive, more comprehensive and better at what they’re doing in terms of defending their own people in Anbar,” he added, referring to a Sunni-majority province largely under ISIS control.
Meanwhile in Syria, Turkey and the United States aim to finalize an agreement on equipping and training moderate Syrian rebels this month, a senior Turkish foreign ministry official said on Monday, part of the U.S.-led campaign to battle ISIS, Reuters reported.
The training is expected to start in March, simultaneously with similar programs in the countries of other regional allies, the Turkish official said. The aim is to train 15,000 Syrian rebels over three years.