Al-Baghdadi, a city in Iraq, was captured by ISIS, or the Islamic State, on Friday, according to reports. The city is located just a few miles from the Al Asad Airbase, where about 320 U.S. Marines are stationed.
A report from ABC News says that ISIS fighters snuck into the Iraqi Al Asad airbase and attacked an onbase facility. “About 7:20 a.m.(Iraqi time, Friday Feb. 13) a small Daesh element attacked an Iraqi Army facility on the Al Asad Air Base in Anbar province,” reads a statement from the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.
It added: “The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) supported by Coalition surveillance assets defeated the attack, killing all eight attackers. The ISF have since re-secured their facility.”
There were rumors that the Marines are “trapped” but those are not confirmed.
The Reuters news agency, citing a local manager, said al-Baghdadi was taken over on Wednesday night. “Ninety percent of al-Baghdadi district has fallen under the control of the insurgents,” district manager Naji Arak told the outlet.
A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed there was fighting, but it didn’t affect the airbase.
“There were reports of ineffective indirect fire in the vicinity of the base,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson also told Fox News: “There was no direct attack on the Al Asad air base … [and there was] ineffective indirect fire in the vicinity of the base.”
“It bears watching,” said retired Col. Thomas Lynch, a National Defense University fellow, of the fighting near the base. The ISIS fighters would have to breach the air base security perimeter.
The Associated Press has more:
Eight Islamic State fighters were killed when they attacked an air base where U.S. and coalition forces are training Iraqi forces.
Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said that initial reports Friday showed that all of the IS attackers were killed by Iraqi troops at or inside a gate to al-Asad air base in the western province of Anbar.
There are about 400 U.S. troops at the base, but Warren said none of the American forces were involved in the fighting. He said the U.S. troops were about two miles away, in a different section of the sprawling air base.
U.S. unmanned surveillance aircraft and Army Apache attack helicopters were sent to the scene from Baghdad, but the attack was over before they arrived, so they did not engage in fighting.
There are currently nearly 2,600 U.S. forces in Iraq. Of those, about 450 are training Iraqi troops at three bases across the country, including al-Asad. Forces from other coalition countries conduct the training at the fourth site, in the northern city of Irbil.