US ground troops return to Iraq
US troops have started their first mission in Iraq, one day after the arrival of 430 of the 1,500 military personnel to be sent by the US to assist the Iraqi army against the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as ISIS).
Brigadier General Hussein al-Saedi told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the first batch of military personnel to arrive were mostly marines.
"They came from Kuwait onboard military aircraft that landed in Baghdad International Airport on Monday and Tuesday last week,” he said.
"The rest of the military personnel are expected to arrive by the end of next week."
The US troops are stationed in military bases around Iraq.
"The first group was stationed in the Ain al-Asad base in western Anbar. They started a training program for tribes and police officers, and made plans for Iraqi forces, who are now in a good position to attack," Saedi said.
"These troops will not be independent in terms of taking decisions, they will work under Iraqi direction, and US military personnel will abide by agreements signed between Baghdad and Washington."
Equipped for 'special missions'
|These troops will not be independent in terms of taking decisions, they will work under Iraqi direction.|
Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Salim al-Jabouri attended the opening ceremony of the training programme for the tribes in the Ain al-Asad airbase.
Several consultants and the US training team also attended the ceremony.
"The US troops that arrived in Anbar were accompanied by helicopters. They are also equipped with heavy and medium arms for special missions," said Mohammad Rafea, political adviser to the Anbar government.
Faleh al-Essawi, deputy head of the Anbar governorate council, said he hoped the deployment of US troops "would achieve security progress in the coming period".
"The coordination also includes working on destroying IS strongholds by airstrikes."
Residents from the town of Alous, near the Ain al-Asad base, said that US Apache helicopters flew above IS-controlled towns at high altitude on Tuesday. The helicopters attacked after IS fighters shot at them.
"The Iraqi army blocked all roads leading to the base since the US troops arrived," said one resident. "They stopped any civilian cars from coming within two kilometres of the base and placed signs warning deadly force would be used if anyone approached the location."
This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.