Baghdad (AFP) – Iraqi troops trained by the US-led coalition have joined the battlefield for the first time, a US pentagon spokesman said Thursday, & are battling the Islamic State group to retake Ramadi.
"As many as 3,000" Iraqi soldiers trained & armed by the coalition are taking part in ongoing operations to reconquer the Anbar provincial capital, Colonel Steven Warren said.
"This is a development we are very satisfied to hear," he told reporters in Baghdad during a visit by US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.
p>The 9,000 Iraqi army fighters who have been trained by foreign troops had not yet been sent to battle against the Islamic State group.
Their participation in operations against IS, which controls most of Anbar as well as Iraq's second city Mosul, is an significant stage in the US strategy against the jihadist group.
Washington has around 3,500 troops deployed in Iraq to advise & train government forces in their effort to reconquer the land they lost a year ago.
US President Barack Obama's strategy in tackling IS has been criticised as ineffective both domestically & in Iraq.
IS has in the space of two years risen to become the world's most powerful jihadist organisation & has franchises wreaking havoc in several countries in the Middle East & beyond.