Dempsey: Iraqi forces can defend Baghdad

BY Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press  July 3, 2014 at 1:29 PM EST
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said Iraqi forces have strengthened around the capital city in an effort to counter ISIL. Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said Iraqi forces have strengthened around the capital city to counter ISIL. Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says Iraqi security forces are capable of defending Baghdad but are unable to act unilaterally to launch an offensive to seize back territory occupied by a Sunni insurgent group.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey tells reporters the Iraqi forces are stronger around the capital city as they seek to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking at the same news conference at the Pentagon Thursday, says about 200 U.S. military advisers are now in country assessing the situation. The military leader insists the U.S. won’t be involved in combat operations years after American fighting forces left Iraq, echoing President Barack Obama’s recent statements.