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50 US troops arrive in western Iraq: Pentagon
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 10, 2014

Jordan airlifts aid to Iraq's Anbar province
Amman (AFP) Nov 10, 2014 - Jordan has flown humanitarian aid to Iraq's western Anbar province, where jihadists from the Islamic State group have seized ground and sown fear among the population, the royal court said Monday.

"A Royal Air Force aircraft laden with huge quantities of humanitarian aid and other supplies to the Iraqi people... landed at the Ain al-Assad airport" in Anbar, a statement said.

King Abdullah II ordered the dispatch of aid to Anbar "as part of efforts to boost cooperation between Jordan and Iraq, and alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people in view of the current situation in their country."

IS spearheaded a major offensive in June that overran much of Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland, including swathes of Anbar where the jihadists have launched a campaign of mass killings.

The executions have targeted members of the Albu Nimr tribe which has fought the IS.

Anbar province, west of Baghdad, is across the border from Jordan.

The tiny desert kingdom has joined the US-led war on jihadists in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

On Monday King Abdullah met visiting Iraqi Vice President Iyad Allawi to discuss coordination between the two countries to counter "terrorist organisations," a court statement said.

US troops have deployed to Iraq's frontline western province of Anbar for the first time in the fight against Islamic State jihadists, with 50 preparing the way for a larger contingent, the Pentagon said Monday.

"I can confirm that approximately 50 US military personnel are visiting Al-Asad Air Base to conduct a site survey of facilities for potential future use as an advise and assist operation location in support of Iraq Security Forces," spokeswoman Commander Elissa Smith said.

Some soldiers in the 50-strong team are providing security for the specialists carrying out the survey but the Americans at the air base are not delivering weapons to Sunni tribes, Smith said.

"US forces are not arming tribes in the region; this is a matter for the Government of Iraq and the ISF," she said.

The move comes after President Barack Obama announced plans last week to double the number of American troops in Iraq, approving an additional 1,500 forces that will include trainers and advisers for Anbar.

Parts of mainly-Sunni Anbar province have become a stronghold for the IS group and Iraqi forces have been on the retreat in recent weeks, falling back to the Asad air base.

The desert airfield was once a sprawling hub for American troops and aircraft during the 2003 to 2011 occupation of Iraq.

A string of battlefield defeats for Iraqi forces has led to warnings that Anbar, which stretches from borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the western approach to Baghdad, could fall entirely.

The IS group has carried out mass executions in recent days to sow terror in Anbar, targeting a tribe that fought against the jihadists, Iraqi officers and tribal leaders say.

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