An Iraqi army spokesman yesterday dismissed reports that US ground forces are fighting Daesh in Ramadi.
“The forces in charge of military operations in Anbar and all other security sectors [in the province] are Iraqi forces, supported by Popular Crowd [forces] and tribes in the Western area. As to the international coalition advisors, they are currently in the Habbaniyah air base. Their mission is not a combat mission – but to provide military advice and coordinate raids on Daesh targets,” joint operations spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool told the Anadolu Agency.
Rasool stressed that the Iraqi army is taking the lead on ground combat against Daesh and there is no US participation in this regard.
Arab and Iraqi media outlets reported that around 160 US troops, in addition to US military vehicles and equipment arrived at the Habbaniyah air base this week to prepare for taking part in seizing Ramadi from Daesh. The unconfirmed reports noted that the US agreed to take part in ground combat on the condition that Popular Crowd forces withdrew from Anbar.
Popular Crowd militias dismissed reports that they withdrew from Anbar, in the west of Iraq, stressing that it will not take part in any fighting alongside US ground forces.
Popular Crowd spokesperson Karim Al-Nouri told Anadolu that the militia is still deployed in Anbar to fight Daesh alongside the Iraqi army and Sunni tribes. “News about our withdrawal from Anbar is not true,” he said.
Al-Nouri said that the Popular Crowd has no direct contact with international coalition forces in Anbar and it will neither fight alongside US ground forces nor withdraw from any area where Daesh is present.
Backed by the international coalition, the Iraqi forces are engaged in extensive battles against Daesh in the provinces of Salah Ad-Din and Anbar in an effort to regain control of significant areas that the group seized last year.
Although Daesh lost control of Diyala, Nineveh and Salah Ad-Din, it still controls most of the cities and areas of the Anbar province. The Iraqi army and the militias affiliated with it, in addition to Kurdish Peshmerga forces, are trying to restore these areas and expel Daesh fighters.