POLITICS

U.S. Advisers In Iraq Stay Out Of Combat But See Fighting Edging Closer

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY W.G DUNLOP 
US soldiers stand at the Taji base complex which hosts Iraqi and US troops and is locate
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY W.G DUNLOP US soldiers stand at the Taji base complex which hosts Iraqi and US troops and is located thirty kilometres north of the capital Baghdad on December 29, 2014. Taji is one of an eventual five sites where the US and allied countries aim to train 5,000 Iraqi military personnel every six to eight weeks for combat against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group. AFP PHOTO / ALI AL-SAADI (Photo credit should read ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)

In Iraq’s western Anbar province, more than 300 U.S. troops are posted at a base in the thick of a pitched battle between Iraqi forces, backed by tribal fighters, and well-armed Islamic State militants.

The militants, positioned at a nearby town, have repeatedly hit the base with artillery and rocket fire in recent weeks. Since the middle of December, the U.S.-led military coalition has launched 13 airstrikes around the facility.

U.S. troops have suffered no casualties in the attacks. But the violence has underlined the risks to American personnel as they fan out across Iraq as part of the expanding U.S. mission against the Islamic State, even as President Obama has pledged that U.S. operations “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”

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