Of the ever-growing number of US ground troops in Iraq, none are in such dangerous situations as those in the Ayn al-Assad airbase in Anbar Province, a province where ISIS holds some 80% of the territory.
These 300 “non-combat troops,” who like everyone else are nominally there for advisory purposes, have not engaged in any clashes yet, officials insist, but it seems only a matter of time, with ISIS forces drawing ever closer.
ISIS is constantly clashing with Iraqi troops, backed by tribal factions, in the towns and villages near the base, and the fights aren’t going well for the government forces, with ISIS slowly, but surely, turning the base into a frontline in the war.
Officials continue to maintain that it is not their intention for the US troops to enter combat, but they also say the troops will “defend themselves,” and being positioned in a base in ISIS territory, it is virtually assured that’s going to happen sooner or later, and likely sooner.
When it does, the troops in Anbar will attempt to defend themselves, but with only 300 there will likely need reinforcements, a tailor-made excuse to bring the US into a direct, escalatory, combat role in Iraq.