During a visit to the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Irbil, Defense Secretary Ash Carter did something US officials generally aren’t supposed to do, discussed what all those US ground troops in Iraq and Syria are actually doing in those country, as nominally “non-combat” forces.
The answer, it turns out, is killing a lot of people. Carter bragged during his speech in Irbil that US special forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria are killing an ever-growing number of ISIS leaders, claiming the “high-value targets” might’ve launched attacks abroad.
Carter did not elaborate on exactly how this happened, but Pentagon officials have previously presented special forces as merely “trainers” and “advisers” helping to prepare the Iraqi military and Kurdish factions to engage in their own fights against ISIS, and insisted they are purely “non-combat.” in nature.
Carter said attacks on Mosul would add to the number of “mid-level” leaders within ISIS the US has managed to kill, though previous reports have suggested much of the group’s real leadership fled the city some time ago. Once again, however, the official narrative is that the US forces around Mosul are purely non-combat, and that everything that happens there will be the Iraqi military’s doing.