(Via FOX NEWS) A small band of ISIS fighters mounted a bold, dawn attack Friday on an air base in Iraq where U.S. forces are training troops, in what experts believe may have been a probe that could foreshadow a coming clash involving Americans.
All eight Islamic State fighters were killed by Iraqi forces in the 7:20 a.m. raid on Ain al-Asad air base in the western province of Anbar, and none of the 400 U.S. military personnel at the base were involved, according to officials. Sources rejected reports that the militant fighters, who killed at least two Iraqi troops, had infiltrated the base wearing Iraqi army uniforms.
“It was a regular ISIL attack,” a senior defense official told Fox News. “It happened at the gate about 3 kilometers from where U.S. forces are. We sent drones and Apaches [attack helicopters], but it was all over before they arrived and neither fired a shot.”
Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said that initial reports Friday showed that all of the Islamic State fighters were killed at or inside a gate to the sprawling, 25-square-mile base.
[…] But Defense Department spokeswoman confirmed to Fox News that “heavy fighting” took place in al-Baghdadi on Thursday, and on Friday, sources said that Iraqi troops were making progress in clearing ISIS fighters.
There are currently nearly 2,600 U.S. forces in Iraq, including about 450 who 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.
But even if Islamic State militants close in on the base, taking it would require a massive force, that would present a target for airstrikes, retired Col. Thomas Lynch, a National Defense University fellow, told Fox News. (read more)