US Claims Key Military Role in North Iraq War against ISIS

US Claims Key Military Role in North Iraq War against ISIS
Fri Mar 25, 2016 14:14:27

The United States military is reportedly boosting its combat role in the north Iraq fight against the ISIS (ISIL) terror group.

Reports say the American military appeared to engage in the battle against ISIS on Thursday as Marines operating from a small outpost provided targeting assistance and artillery fire to support Iraqi troops inching toward Mosul - ISIS’s stronghold in the region.

An AP report citing an unnamed US official said the Marines fired illumination rounds to help the Iraqi forces locate the militants, and also fired artillery rounds in support of the operation, as Iraqi troops took control of several villages on the outskirts of Makhmour, southeast of Mosul.

Earlier this week, US military officials confirmed the creation of the Marine outpost, dubbed Fire Base Bell, which is said to be the first such base established by the US since it returned forces to Iraq in 2014.

However, they insisted that the nearly 200 Marines were only there to provide security for Iraqi forces and US advisers at the nearby Iraqi base in Makhmour.

Meanwhile, American fighter jets also participated in Thursday's operation, launching multiple airstrikes on at least two locations, hitting enemy rocket and mortar positions, the AP report added.

Iraqi armed forces began their offensive to recapture the country’s second-largest city from ISIS terrorists earlier on Thursday.

The military operation is the first phase of a large-scale offensive that Baghdad plans to conclude in 2016 with the complete recapture of Mosul, the capital of the northern Nineveh Province.

Last month, a US military official said Pentagon’s announced figure of 3,500 American forces on the ground in Iraq was an underestimation.

US Army Colonel Steve Warren, stationed in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, said it was "fair to say" that there are hundreds more troops than even that figure, arguing that it was part of the natural rotation of incoming and outgoing forces.

ISIS overran parts of Iraq in June 2014 with the militants capturing the northern city of Mosul.

Iraq has on several occasions complained about the ineffectiveness of airstrikes launched by the US and its allies in June 2014 allegedly targeting ISIS terrorists in the north and west of the country, Press TV reported.

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