[Ed. – This is the air base in Anbar Province where U.S. personnel, uniformed and contractors, have been coming under fire for several months.]
On Thursday afternoon, a series of unconfirmed reports indicated that forces loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria had surrounded a base in which 320 United States Marines were stationed. Those reports were particularly disturbing because they came on the heels of a dispatch which indicated that ISIS forces had taken control of areas in al-Anbar provincenear the al-Asad Airbase where American advisors are training Iraqi Security Forces.
Militants attacked al-Baghdadi from two directions earlier in the day and then advanced on the town, intelligence sources and officials in the Jazeera and Badiya operations commands said.
The officials said another group of insurgents then attacked the heavily-guarded Ain al-Asad air base five km southwest of the town, but were unable to break into it.
About 320 U.S. Marines are training members of the Iraqi 7th Division at the base, which has been struck by mortar fire on at least one previous occasion since December.
“There were reports of ineffective indirect fire in the vicinity of the base,” a Navy spokeswoman told Reuters, suggesting that there was militant activity in the vicinity of the massive (25 square mile) base but that the American forces were not in immediate danger.
Shortly after this report was published, the Pentagon insisted that no American troops were in any danger of coming into direct contact with ISIS forces. There are, however, reports of skirmishes between Iraqi forces and ISIS occurring just outside that base.