WASHINGTON, D.C. — There is “no operational reporting that confirms” U.S. troops were recently embroiled in their first ground battle against Islamic State jihadists who took a shot at conquering an Iraqi military base, the Pentagon told reporters.
The fight allegedly took place near the Ein al-Asad military base in Iraq’s Anbar province.
Stars and Stripes reports that the base houses an estimated 350-strong American military force made up of “advisers and support personnel who are assisting the Iraqi army, as well as a security contingent tasked with providing force protection.”
The U.S. troops in Anbar “are not accompanying Iraqi forces into combat,” Col. Ed Thomas, the chief spokesman for Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, told Stars and Stripes.
On Dec. 16, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby was asked to comment on U.S. troops at the Al Asad base reportedly coming into contact with ISIS battalions on the ground.
In responding, Kirby said the Pentagon is aware of the press reports on the subject, adding, “I’ve seen absolutely no indications, no operational reporting that confirms that it’s true.”
“We have no reports of direct or indirect fire coming into Al Asad or the troops that are there,” the spokesman continued.
He went on to say that “everybody’s accounted for” and that there “are no injuries that we’re aware of.”
“Again, we have nothing to confirm the press reports that there’s been any fire, indirect or otherwise, taken at our troops that are working in Al Asad,” reiterated Kirby.
Currently, 1,700 U.S. troops find themselves in Iraq, a number that is expected to rise to about 3,000 in the next few months.
President Obama and defense officials have repeatedly said American troops will not engage in ground combat, limiting the mission to train and assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting the ISIS.
A U.S.-led coalition, for a few months now, has been attacking ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria from the air.