Coalition-trained Iraqi troops join battle against ISIS

A member of the Iraqi SWAT team stands as security forces and others gather next to one of four new U.S.- made F-16 fighter jets during the delivery ceremony at Balad air base, Iraq, Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP)

Iraqi troops trained by the U.S.-led coalition have joined the battlefield for the first time, a U.S. Pentagon spokesman said Thursday, and are battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group to retake Ramadi.

"As many as 3,000" Iraqi soldiers trained and armed by the coalition are taking part in ongoing operations to reconquer the Anbar provincial capital, Colonel Steven Warren said.

"This is a development we are very satisfied to hear," he told reporters in Baghdad during a visit by U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.

The 9,000 Iraqi army fighters who have been trained by foreign troops had not yet been sent to battle against ISIS.

Their participation in operations against ISIS, which controls most of Anbar as well as Iraq's second city Mosul, is an important stage in the U.S. strategy against the jihadist group.

Washington has around 3,500 troops deployed in Iraq to advise and train government forces in their effort to reconquer the land they lost a year ago.

U.S. President Barack Obama's strategy in tackling ISIS has been criticized as ineffective both domestically and in Iraq.

ISIS has in the space of two years risen to become the world's most powerful jihadist organization and has franchises wreaking havoc in several countries in the Middle East and beyond.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45