Iraq denies presence of coalition ground troops

At the beginning of the week, different media claimed that around 160 U.S. troops arrived at the Habbaniyah air base to launch a ground assault on ISIS militants in Ramadi if only the Popular Crowd forces would withdraw from Anbar.

The reports were termed as baseless by the spokesman of the joint Iraqi operations, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, and Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Jamal.

Rasool said it’s the Iraqi forces that are in charge of military operations in Anbar and security related issues in other provinces, with the support of Popular Crowd forces and tribes in the Western area.

He said the arrival of the “international coalition advisers” is part of a mission to “provide military advice and coordinate raids on Daesh targets” but not ground combat.

Popular Crowd forces spokesperson Karim Al-Nouri said their forces in Anbar don’t have direct contact with the U.S. led coalition and they don’t have the intention to fight alongside them and reports about their withdrawal from Anbar “is not true.”

Coalition members ruled out sending their troops on the ground although countries like France and Australia have upgraded their role from intelligence sharing to airstrikes.

At the beginning of the month, Karim al-Nouri, a commander in the popular forces, said they will continue fighting and will not wait for anyone’s permission. He added he was convinced that the U.S. will not sacrifice its soldiers for Iraq but will continue to interfere in Iraqi affairs.

Jamal said Iraq will welcome logistic support, arms and intelligence sharing from other countries but does not need direct foreign intervention.

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