US defence secretary in Baghdad

Baghdad, July 23

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter arrived unannounced in Baghdad on Thursday to assess the government's progress in healing the country's sectarian divisions and hear the latest on support for the Iraqi army's coming attempt to recapture the key city of Ramadi from the Islamic State.

It is Carter's first visit to Iraq since he took office in February.

Carter is not expected to announce any major change in US strategy or increase in US troop levels. But a Pentagon spokes-man said attack on Ramadi could start within several weeks.