ISIS forces are extremely close to a U.S. airbase, where 320 Marines are training Iraqi forces. Using Iraqi military uniforms, ISIS fighters tried to infiltrate the base to execute a suicide bomb attack, but were killed by Iraqi Security Forces. Yet, the proximity of the ISIS and American military personnel is fraught with danger, especially as President Obama tries to get an authorization to use force resolution through Congress that rejects the notion of “enduring offensive ground forces.” Nevertheless, that fact that ISIS is able to continue its offensive operations shows that airstrikes might not be effective, according to the Washington Post:
Iraqi security forces supported by “surveillance assets” from the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State killed eight militants outside the Ayn al-Asad airbase in Iraq's Anbar province at 7:20 a.m., the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement. The men were would-be suicide bombers who tried to enter the base disguised as Iraqi army soldiers, said Sulaiman al-Kubbaisi, a spokesman for Anbar’s provincial council.
The attack came a day after militants took control of most of Baghdadi, a town less than five miles from the base, where 320 U.S. service members have been training Iraqi troops and tribal fighters.
U.S. forces were “several kilometers” from the attack and were at no stage under direct threat, the statement said. Still, the targeting of a base hosting U.S. troops underscored the risk that Americans could be drawn into real engagement with the militants on the battlefield.
“We readily admit that al-Anbar is a contested region,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said Friday in an interview on CNN. “But . . . this is a huge, sprawling base, roughly the size of Boulder, Colorado,” and it has “mini-bases inside the big base,” he added. “This incident . . . happened nowhere near where U.S. or coalition forces were operating.”
Kirby said of the U.S. trainers and advisers, “there’s no question that they’re close to danger.” Even though they do not have a ground combat mission, “they have the right to defend themselves,” he said. “And should they ever feel under threat, they certainly have the right, the responsibility, the obligation to shoot back.”
The capture of Baghdadi, which remained under militant control on Friday, also demonstrates the continued ability of the Islamic State to stay on the attack despite coalition airstrikes and talk of a looming counteroffensive on major cities held by the group, which is also known as ISIS, ISIL and, in Arabic, Daesh. U.S. officials maintain that the militants are largely on the defensive.