June 2, 2015
Image Credit: Flickr / Tech. Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV
American troops just had their first real battle with Islamic State militants, after the terror group attempted to overrun Ein al-Asad base in Iraq in the middle of the night Sunday, the Kurdish news outlet Shafaq News reports. The U.S. troops absolutely decimated the militants, forcing a quick retreat. The counterattack was conducted in a joint operation with local tribal forces.
The attack occurred at Ein al-Asad base, which currently hosts nearly 100 U.S. military “advisers.” The U.S. troops engaged the militants in tandem with F-18 fighter jets, who provided air support. The battle lasted approximately two hours after an undisclosed number of militants were killed.
An Iraqi Army field commander was reported as saying:
“The US force equipped with light and medium weapons, supported by fighter force model F-18.”
A tribal leader, Sheikh Mahmud Nimrawi, said:
“US forces intervened because of ISIS started to come near the base, which they are stationed in, so out of self-defense.”
At the height of the Iraq War, Ein al-Asad was the largest airbase in Iraq’s Anbar province. The fight occurred in the al-Dolab area, about six miles from the base.
Hundreds of U.S. troops have been deployed to Iraq’s Anbar Province following the news of the Islamic State attack, Stars and Stripes reported.
“Currently, about 350 U.S. troops are stationed at Al Asad Air Base in Anbar. The force is composed of advisers and support personnel who are assisting the Iraqi army, as well as a security contingent tasked with providing force protection.”
The White House has previously stated how the role of U.S. troops are that of “advisers” and not combat troops. President Obama has been quoted as saying:
“I will not commit you and the rest of our Armed Forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.”
Col. Ed Thomas, the chief spokesman for Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said that the troops will not be accompanying Iraqi forces in combat, reiterating President Obama’s pledge to not commit U.S. troops into a combat capacity.