(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
BAGHDAD - US Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday assured Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of continued US support to defeat Islamic State, the Iraqi government said in a statement.
The two discussed the situation in Syria and the war on Islamic State in a phone call from Pence following Friday's US strikes on a Syrian airbase to punish a chemical attack that killed scores of civilians this week in an area held by the opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Pence "affirmed that US policy in the region didn't change, its priority is to defeat Daesh in Iraq and the region," said a statement from Abadi's office.
The Shi'ite-led Iraqi government issued a statement on Friday in reaction to the events in Syria reflecting a difficult balancing act between its alliance with the United States and with Shi'ite Iran, a key backer of Assad.
The Iraqi statement condemned the chemical attack, without naming Assad, calling instead for an international investigation to identify the perpetrator.
The statement also criticized "the hasty interventions" that followed the chemical attack, in an apparent reference to the US strikes.
A US-led coalition has been providing air and ground support to Iraqi forces battling the militants, allowing them to recapture most cities they had overran in 2014 in Sunni areas of northern and western Iraq.