U.S. military specialists arrive in Iraq

- 45-strong group to provide counter-terrorism training to Iraqi security forces against ISIL, claims local source.

ANBAR, Iraq (AA) – Forty-five American officers and military personnel have arrived in Iraq for what local security sources claim are “consulting and training roles.”

The contingent arrived at Ayn al-Asad Iraqi military base in Anbar province’s al-Baghdadi district in western Iraq on Thursday night, an anonymous Iraqi army source told The Anadolu Agency.

Coming from a U.S. base in Kuwait, the group will provide training to Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters about countering terrorism to free Anbar province from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the source added.

Military plans for further military operations against ISIL in areas located west of Ramadi city are also thought to be on the group’s agenda, the source said.

Major General Kasem al-Mohammadi, Anbar province’s military operations chief, confirmed on Friday the fortification of Ayn al-Asad military base.

“The Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters are almost completely securing al-Baghdadi district and ISIL is 2 kilometers from Ayn al-Asad but is no danger to the base,” al-Mohammadi said.

The Iraqi security forces repelled ISIL attacks on al-Baghdadi district on Thursday morning, according to al-Mohammadi.

U.S. General John Allen – the U.S-led international coalition’s coordinator – announced on Feb. 8, that the Iraqi security forces would start a major offensive ground against ISIL within weeks.

Clashes between Iraqi forces and ISIL have been ongoing since June 2014 when the armed group seized Mosul and other territories in Iraq.

This prompted the U.S. to form an international coalition, which has launched numerous airstrikes against ISIL targets in both Iraq and Syria.

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