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US advisers ‘may join attacks on IS’

Soldiers look at a village

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The BBC’s Jim Muir is on the ground with Kurdish troops who are starting a push to retake the plain of Mosul

US military

advisers could accompany Iraqi forces in attacks against Islamic State (IS) militants, top US General Martin Dempsey has said.

Hundreds more US advisers are being sent to Iraq as part of a new strategy to defeat the group outlined by President Barack Obama last week.

The US earlier carried out its first air strike under the strategy, which seeks to “degrade and destroy” IS.

The jihadists have seized huge areas of Syria and Iraq declared a “caliphate”.

‘At war’

Gen Dempsey confirmed that US military advisers would help the Iraqi army to plan attacks against IS.

“To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific Isil [Islamic State] targets, I will recommend that to the president,” he said.

General Dempsey was testifying alongside defence secretary Chuck Hagel at the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“We are at war with Isil, as we are with al-Qaeda”, Mr Hagel said.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testify during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the U.S. policy toward Iraq and Syria and the threat posed by the Islamic State on Capitol Hill in Washington September 16General Martin Dempsey said the US would apply pressure on IS in Syria as well as Iraq

He outlined in more detail the US strategy for dealing with the group.

“This plan includes targeted actions against Isil safe havens in Syria, including its command and control, logistics capabilities, and infrastructure” he said.

Both men were heckled by anti-war protesters inside the chamber.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s new prime minister saw his two nominations for defence and interior minister rejected by parliament.

The rejections of the two key posts are a setback for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Graphic of US air strikes on Iraq and Islamic State attacks. 16 Sept

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