Iraq says additional U.S. and foreign military support is welcome but 'a little late'
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi (C) speaks during a press conference in Karbala in central Iraq on Oct. 23, 2014. Photo by Mohammed Sawaf for Agence France-Presse.

Iraq said Saturday that foreign military trainers heading to the country are welcome but "a little late", after U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled plans to send 1,500 additional troops.

"This step is a little late, but we welcome it," a statement from Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi's office said.

The Baghdad government had requested members of the U.S.-led international coalition battling Islamic State group (IS) jihadists to help train and arm its forces, the statement said.

"The coalition agreed on that and four to five Iraqi training camps were selected, and building on that, they have now begun sending the trainers," it said.

IS spearheaded a major military militant offensive that has overrun much of the country's Sunni Arab heartland since June, and Iraqi federal and Kurdish forces backed by tribesmen and militiamen are fighting to regain ground.

Multiple Iraqi divisions collapsed in the northern province of Nineveh in the early days of the jihadist offensive, leaving major units that need to be reconstituted.

Experts say Iraqi security forces suffer from serious shortcomings in training and logistics, hampering their performance in the conflict.