The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) rebels have attacked Joint Base Balad in Iraq in the early hours today, and surrounded it on three sides.
The militants and Sunni tribes occupied the ‘Camp Anaconda’ air base, one of the largest in the country, after battling the Iraqi forces in the town of Yathrib, 90km north of Baghdad.
The air base was struck with mortars, reported Reuters. Four militants were killed in the battle in Yathrib.
Meanwhile, the first batch of 130 US advisers including intelligence analysts, logistics experts and special operations forces arrived in Iraq on Tuesday.
Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby was quoted by Reuters as saying that about 40 special operations personnel assigned to the US Embassy’s Office of Security Cooperation had been deployed as part of the first two assessment teams.
US President Barack Obama has agreed to send 300 advisers to Iraq but turned down the country’s request to help it with air strikes.
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The US is undertaking 30-35 manned and unmanned reconnaissance flights over Iraq every day to provide the ground forces with insights, Kirby said.
In a related development, the US said that the air strikes on ISIS rebels during last week are being suspected to have been carried out by Syrian forces in support of the Iraqi Government.
A US official told ABC News that the United States has ‘pretty good information that the Syrians are behind the fighter aircraft bombing in western Al Anbar,’ an Iraqi province along Syrian border.