World View: Joint U.S.-Kurdish Operation in Iraq Rescues 70 Hostages from ISIS


This morning’s key headlines from

  • Joint US-Kurdish operation in Iraq rescues 70 hostages from ISIS, one American killed
  • Administration denies that combat use of American soldiers was ‘mission creep’

Joint US-Kurdish operation in Iraq rescues 70 hostages from ISIS, one American killed

Kurdish Peshmerga forces
Kurdish Peshmerga forces

About 70 hostages in a prison compound held by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) were freed on Thursday in a joint commando raid by Kurdish Peshmerga militia forces and American combat troops, supported by four helicopters. One American soldier was killed.

According to the White House, the hostages faced “imminent mass execution”:

That operation was deliberately planned and launched after receiving information that the hostages faced imminent mass execution. It was authorized consistent with our counter-ISIL effort to train, advise and assist Iraqi forces.

Of the rescued hostages, more than 20 were Iraqi soldiers and the rest were civilians, with no Americans in the group. McClatchy and Rudaw (Iraq) and CBS

Administration denies that combat use of American soldiers was ‘mission creep’

The use of American ground forces in Thursday’s rescue operation appears to violate the administration’s vow that American “boots on the ground” would not be involved in combat operations.

According to President Obama on June 19, 2014:

We have had advisors in Iraq through our embassy, and we’re prepared to send a small number of additional American military advisors — up to 300 — to assess how we can best train, advise, and support Iraqi security forces going forward.

American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region, and American interests as well.

Since then, the 300 military advisors have been increased, in step-by-step escalations of up to 3000 soldiers. However, the White House denies that Thursday’s action is another escalation, or that it is “mission creep.” According to a Pentagon spokesman:

U.S. forces are not in an active combat mission in Iraq, and I can say that directly. … This was a unique circumstance – a specific request from the Kurdistan regional government – and we acted. Thanks to the actions of not only the Iraqi forces involved here, but the U.S. forces, lives were saved.

There were several questions that went unanswered on Thursday. One was whether American forces would be used in combat in the future. The other was whether American forces have previously been used in combat, but it was kept secret because no American was killed. Administration officials refused to answer either question.

The situation in Iraq is very confused right now, since no one knows the plans of the Russians. There are Russian warplanes in Syria, and Iranian ground troops in Syria. The Iraqi government is reported to have requested Russian warplanes in Iraq, although that has not been confirmed. It may turn out that Russian activity in Iraq will preclude any further American escalation. VOA and Foreign Policy and Daily Beast

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Iraq, Kurds, Peshmerga, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh
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