A combination of airborne firepower and Iraqi ground forces was successful in pushing Islamic State group militants out of Al Baghdadi, Iraq, officials with Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve announced Friday.
The Iraqi Security Forces and tribal fighters from the Anbar region also retook an Al Baghdadi police station and three bridges on the Euphrates River that had been held by the extremist group since September, according to a news release. Seven villages northwest of the town, on the road to Haditha, were also cleared, officials said.
When news broke surfaced that IS insurgents had usurped Al Baghdadi in February, some of the furor surfaced around accompanying reports that the nearby Al Asad air base, which then housed some 320 Marines, had also been attacked.
The Marines, attached to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command, were at the base training members of the 7th Iraqi Division
Pentagon and coalition officials acknowledged the day following the attack that the perimeter of an Iraqi Aarmy facility at Al Asad had been breached, but said the facility was quickly re-secured. Coalition forces were not involved in the effort, they said.
Friday's announcement revealed that Ccoalition forces had executed 26 airstrikes on IS targets in support of the Iraqi ground forces and provided surveillance and advisory assistance, but did not say which units or services had been involved in the effort.
Photographs released by CJTF-Inherent Resolve show Marines with Task Force Al Asad advising Iraqi troops, so it appears Marines the Corps played a role in at least that element of the recapture of Al Baghdadi.
Marines with Task Force Al Asad help advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces during ongoing ground operations in Anbar province, Iraq. U.S. and coalition forces work closely with ISF to build military capability and capacity through training in small-unit tactics, sustainment improvement and air-ground integration.
Photo Credit: Cpl. Carson Gramley/U.S. Army Central
Officials with the Marine task force SPMAGTF Crisis Response-CENTCOM and Marine Corps Central Command did not immediately respond to questions about Marines' role in the operation.
The counter-IS offensive in Anbar will continue with Ccoalition support, according to Friday's announcement.
"Iraqi Security Forces now hold the gains they have made and are postured to retake additional territory from ISIL in the Anbar region," officials said.