October 18, 2021

Iraq Security Forces Repel ISIS Attack on Air Base Hosting US Marines

Iraq Security Forces Repel ISIS Attack on Air Base Hosting US Marines(Reuters) – Iraqi security forces on Friday repelled an attack by Islamic State insurgents against an air base in Anbar province where U.S. Marines are training Iraqi troops, Iraqi and U.S. military officials said.

Militants from the jihadist group had attacked the Ain al-Asad base and the nearby town of al-Baghdadi a day earlier, leading to sporadic clashes in the town overnight.

Al-Baghdadi has been besieged for months by Islamic State, which captured swathes of northern and western Iraq last year, prompting a campaign of U.S.-led air strikes and the deployment of hundreds of U.S. military advisers to the country.

A U.S. defence official said the Iraqi forces had stopped the attack and re-secured the facility.

“Coalition forces were several kilometres from the attack and at no stage were they under direct threat from this action,” the official said.

About 320 U.S. Marines are training members of the Iraqi 7th Division at the base, which has been struck by mortar fire on at least one previous occasion since December.

Iraq’s Defence Ministry said on its website the Iraqi army killed eight assailants near the base, which is about 85 km (50 miles) northwest of Ramadi.

An Iraqi military official in Baghdad told Reuters the insurgents had taken advantage of a lull in the air strikes caused by poor weather to launch the offensive.

He said Islamic State had been cleared from most of al-Baghdadi, with the remaining fighting centred around a police station.

That conflicted with reports from a tribal leader who said the jihadists were still in control of much of the town.

Ongoing clashes and poor communications in the area made it difficult to confirm such reports.

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FOX NEWS

Islamic State fighters reportedly seized most of a western Iraqi town on Thursday, in fighting taking place mere miles from an air base where hundreds of U.S. Marines are training Iraqis.

Reuters, quoting local officials, reported Thursday that ISIS militants had overrun much of the town of al-Baghdadi. One local Iraqi official told Reuters that, “Ninety percent of al-Baghdadi district has fallen under the control of the insurgents.”

A Defense Department spokeswoman confirmed to Fox News that “heavy fighting” took place in that area on Thursday, but referred questions about the status of the town to the Iraq government.

“There was no direct attack on the Al Asad air base,” the spokeswoman assured, while acknowledging reports of “ineffective indirect fire in the vicinity of the base.”

Reuters had reported that, according to unnamed officials, a group of insurgents did attack the well-fortified base but failed to break in.

The Al Asad air base is where 320 U.S. Marines are stationed training Iraqi forces. It is a mere 13-minute drive from al-Baghdadi to the base.

Reuters:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Islamic State insurgents took control on Thursday of most of the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, threatening an air base where U.S. Marines are training Iraqi troops, officials said.

Al-Baghdadi, about 85 km (50 miles) northwest of Ramadi in Anbar province, had been besieged for months by the radical Sunni Islamist militants who captured vast swathes of Iraq’s north and west last year.

“Ninety percent of al-Baghdadi district has fallen under the control of the insurgents,” district manager Naji Arak told Reuters by phone.

Militants attacked al-Baghdadi from two directions earlier in the day and then advanced on the town, intelligence sources and officials in the Jazeera and Badiya operations commands said.

The officials said another group of insurgents then attacked the heavily-guarded Ain al-Asad air base five km southwest of the town, but were unable to break into it.

About 320 U.S. Marines are training members of the Iraqi 7th Division at the base, which has been struck by mortrar fire on at least one previous occasion since December.

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