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US Training Iraqi Forces in Anbar Amid Militants' Mortar Fire


FILE - Members of Iraqi security forces arrive in Anbar Province to reinforce security forces in Ramadi, June 17, 2014.

FILE - Members of Iraqi security forces arrive in Anbar Province to reinforce security forces in Ramadi, June 17, 2014.

U.S. troops have started to train Iraqi security forces at a base in volatile Anbar province despite regular harassment fire from Islamic State militants.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said about 320 U.S. service members were stationed at Anbar's al-Asad base. They provide advice and planning assistance to Iraqi security forces as mortar fire from Islamic State militants rains down regularly near the base. But Warren said the enemy fire attacks were merely a nuisance.

"They have thus far been wholly ineffective. No U.S. personnel, no U.S. equipment has been impacted in any way,” he said.

Warren said U.S. training of Iraq's 7th Division started at al-Asad base on December 20.

“The mission is focused on mission support planning, information and intelligence fusion, close air support coordination operations and overall development of security strategies,” he said.

Elsewhere in Iraq, about 170 U.S. military personnel are training four Iraqi security force battalions at Camp Taji, about 30 kilometers outside Baghdad.

Two other training sites are developing in Irbil and Besmaya, although the Pentagon says neither of these are expected to be up and running for several more weeks.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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