US Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones has issued a statement today insisting that reports of US attack helicopters participating in raids against ISIS targets in northern Iraq are “untrue,” and that the US wouldn’t conduct such operations without government permission.
Several different reports have emerged in the past week of US helicopters participating in offensives, and Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled Obeidi has confirmed in the media that US helicopters were involved in at least some of those incidents.
Pentagon officials have repeatedly offered to use Apache helicopters in attacks against targets in Iraq, but have so far been rebuffed by the Abadi government. The reports of their use has fueled condemnation from several sources in Iraq, particularly militias who have complained the US role in too expansive as it is.
Ambassador Jones’ denial appears to be an attempt to calm those complaints, but with the Defense Ministry already confirming the incident, a US denial is probably not going to be believed by most anyhow, and questions about what exactly the US is doing are likely to grow.