US Defense Secretary Ash Carter made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Monday to meet U.S. military commanders and Iraqi officials, as Washington seeks to capitalize on the recent seizure of a major airbase close to Islamic State-held Mosul.

U.S. officials said Carter would meet Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi, as well as U.S. Army Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, the head of the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.