The Guardian reports: The Pentagon leadership suggested to a Senate panel on Tuesday that US ground troops may directly join Iraqi forces in combat against the Islamic State (Isis), despite US president Barack Obama’s repeated public assurances against US ground combat in the latest Middle Eastern war.
A day after US warplanes expanded the war south-west of Baghdad, Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate armed services committee that he could see himself recommending the use of some US military forces now in Iraq to embed within Iraqi and Kurdish units to take territory away from Isis.
“If we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific [Isis] targets, I will recommend that to the president,” Dempsey said, preferring the term “close combat advising”.
It was the most thorough public acknowledgement yet from Pentagon leaders that the roughly 1,600 US troops Obama has deployed to Iraq since June may in fact be used in a ground combat role, something Obama has directly ruled out, most recently in a televised speech last week.
Dempsey, who has for years warned about the “unintended consequences” of Americanizing the Syrian civil war that gave rise to Isis, said he envisioned “close combat advising” for operations on the order of taking Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, away from Isis. [Continue reading…]
Middle East Monitor adds: The head of Iraq’s Shia Sadrist movement Muqtada Al-Sadr yesterday threatened the United States’ troops if they decide to return to Iraq.
Al-Sadr said, in a statement posted on his official website: “The Black House [The White House] has decided to resume its attacks on Iraqi territory and perhaps the American decision comes after it had regretted its mockery of a withdrawal from Iraq to avoid the Iraqi fierce military and political and popular resistance.”
Al-Sadr continued: “I say, if you [United States] decide to return to Iraq, we will fight you with all our power and you will regret your decision.”
Al-Sadr called on the Iraqi government not to seek the occupier’s help even under the pretext of defeating the Islamic State, claiming the radical organization is nothing but an “American colonial invention”.