Militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have captured the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, putting them within striking distance of an airbase where US troops are training Iraqi forces, the Pentagon said Saturday.
Following the fall of the town, which the United States military Pentagon played down as “a minor setback”, ISIL launched an attack involving suicide bombers on the nearby al-Asad airbase.
But the attack on the al-Asad airbase was unsuccessful, Aljazeerah has reported.
“We do assess that right now they have control of Al-Baghdadi,” Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, an officer in the rank of Rear Admiral said at a news conference, adding ISIL took hold of the town “in the past several days.”
The town is located in Anbar province, about 8km from the al-Asad air base, where about 320 US Marines are stationed to assist Iraqi government troops.
The chairman of Anbar’s provincial council, Sabah Karhout, said “more than 1,000 ISIL fighters” had overrun the town of al-Baghdadi”.
Mr. Karhout said that “there is a regional plot that wants the base to fall under ISIL because of its strategic significance”, adding that the US-led coalition air strikes that targeted the vicinity of the base did not hit their targets.
However, Iraqi Khaled al-Obeidi, Iraqi Defence Minister described what happened in the city of al-Baghdadi as “a failure”.
Mr. Khaled made the comments after a meeting with the parliamentary security committee.
He said his ministry was planning to deploy more forces to address the situation.