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Defense Secretary Hagel: Iraqi security forces have 'new momentum' against Islamic State

  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, meets with Emir of Kuwait Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, (R) at the Kuwaiti Seif Palace, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Also pictured is Sheik Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, (2ndL) Crown Prince of Kuwait and Deputy Commander of the Military of Kuwait. (AP Photo/Mark Wilson, Pool)

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, meets with Emir of Kuwait Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, (R) at the Kuwaiti Seif Palace, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Also pictured is Sheik Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, (2ndL) Crown Prince of Kuwait and Deputy Commander of the Military of Kuwait. (AP Photo/Mark Wilson, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Emir of Kuwait Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah attends a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014 in Kuwait City. Secretary Hagel met with Kuwaiti officials at the Seif Palace.  (AP Photo/Mark Wilson, Pool)

    Emir of Kuwait Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah attends a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014 in Kuwait City. Secretary Hagel met with Kuwaiti officials at the Seif Palace. (AP Photo/Mark Wilson, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says Iraqi security forces have "new momentum" in their battle to regain territory lost this year to the Islamic State group.

Hagel spoke Monday to reporters at a US Army camp in Kuwait that serves as a staging and logistics hub for military operations in the Middle East.

Hagel said that the Islamic State group remains a formidable threat, not only to Iraq but also to neighboring Iran and other countries in the region.

The Pentagon chief said he is encouraged that Iraqi government troops have made significant headway against IS in the months since US began airstrikes in areas held by the militants.