Top U.S. military officer Dunford arrives in Iraq

IRBIL, Iraq America's top military officer arrived in the Kurdistan region of Iraq on Tuesday, saying that Iraq's government has not sought Russian airstrikes to help in its fight against Islamic State militants. Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was here to assess coalition efforts to train Iraqi forces and track their efforts to combat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. His visit comes amid heightened Russian involvement in Syria, which has raised concerns among some analysts that its involvement might expand into Iraq. Dunford said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi told U.S. officials that Iraq is not seeking Russian airstrikes, despite earlier reports suggesting that he would welcome them. "U.S. officials engaged Abadi and he did not request Russian airstrikes," Dunford said. The United States has about 3,400 troops in Iraq engaged in an effort to train and support Iraq's military, as the country attempts to push the militants out of territory they seized last year.