American helicopters have supported Iraqi ground forces battling the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in al-Baghdadi, military sources said on Saturday.
The US military on Friday deployed Apache helicopters against an assault by the militants on the strategic Ayn al-Assad Air Base about 15 kilometers south of al-Baghdadi, CNN reported citing anonymous sources.
During the assault, Iraqi troops managed to kill those attackers and the helicopters could safely return to base without firing a shot, the sources stated.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby has said "It looks like they at least got to the outer base limits. We're still looking at this and it's hard to say whether they breached the perimeter or not. But they certainly got to the perimeter level at the very least."
Kirby said 20-25 ISIL militants led by suicide bombers made the attack and most of the terrorists were wearing Iraqi military uniforms.
He also said US forces were "several kilometers" away from the place where the battle occured.
However, deploying helicopters has brought US troops closer to combat against the militants, according to Robert Baer, a former CIA officer.
"I think what we're seeing here is mission creep," he said. "The Iraqi army is not up to the task. And without the United States Air Force and the military on the ground, a lot of these ... bases would be overrun."
On February 7, a US military official said that Washington may deploy ground troops to Iraq as the country’s forces are planning for operations against the ISIL-held city of Mosul.
As soon as April, the Iraqi forces would make their first move against the militants in the city some 400 kilometers north of the capital Baghdad, the official noted.
The ISIL terrorists have been engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their in Iraq and Syria. They have terrorized and killed people of all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.