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article imageOp-Ed: More than 1,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq

By Ken Hanly     Sep 4, 2014 in Politics
Baghdad - Although the US insists that there will be no boots on the ground in Iraq, it already has over one thousand troops there. The operation of these special forces is usually kept well hidden.
Even in Syria where Obama supposedly has no troops special forces attempted unsuccessfully to rescue American journalist James Foley. On Tuesday, September 2, Obama announced that another 350 troops will be sent to Iraq to "beef up security". According to a White House statement: "The request he approved today will allow some previously deployed military personnel to depart Iraq, while at the same time providing a more robust, sustainable security force for our personnel and facilities in Baghdad," Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said that the new troops were not intended for combat but to bolster security both at the Baghdad embassy and support facilities. Perhaps there are concerns that the Islamic State will launch suicide or other attacks on the embassy located in the Green Zone of Baghdad.
On Monday September 1, in an attack on the town of Zumar, US troops appeared to be fighting alongside Kurdish Peshmerga with backing by US air support. The Kurdish forces now have heavy equipment flown in from the US and Germany. Many civilians in Zumar and surrounding villages are fleeing the battle zone towards Erbil the capital of the Kurdish Regional Government.
The battle for Zumar is described in detail in this Daily Beast article. A group from the Daily Beast were prevented from moving closer to the front lines at one point and in attempt to move forward they contacted officials both in Erbil and on the ground near Zumar: “Yes, we want to let you in, but we can’t,” said one high-level Kurdish government official. “We have visitors, you’ll see them,” he stated. As we tried to decipher his cryptic response our answer came: multiple armored Toyotas swept down the mountain, passing within feet of us. The Toyotas were packed with what appeared to be bearded Western Special Operations Forces. I watched the trucks pass and saw for myself the crews inside them. They didn’t wear any identifying insignia but they were visibly Western and appeared to match all the visual characteristics of American special operations soldiers. The group claims that contacts in the Peshmerga leadership confirmed what had happened and said that both German and American forces were helping in the attack.
When the Daily Beast contacted Pentagon officials a spokesperson for the US Central Command said: “There are no U.S. troops on the ground in or around Zumar.” The spokesperson did admit that one airstrike had been made by the US destroying several vehicles in Zumar area. By Monday evening Kurdish officials announced they were in full control of Zumar. The officials estimated 100 Islamic State fighters had been killed as well as 38 captured. The US Special Forces may also be involved in guiding US airstrikes to their targets.
Recently Obama set forth his objective in the fight against the Islamic State: "The bottom line is this, our objective is clear and that is to degrade and destroy (Islamic State) so that it's no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States," While Obama is clearly depending for the most part on proxy forces in Iraq such as the Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi security forces, US special forces appear to also be involved even at the front lines as well as providing security. Special forces will also need to be involved in Syria as well. It is only a matter of time before there will be US casualties in Iraq again and perhaps in Syria as well, adding to the costs of intervention.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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