US starts training for Iraqi forces to better fight IS militants

5 January 2015 (Last Updated January 5th, 2015 18:30)

The US military has started training Iraqi Army recruits, as it seeks to defeat Islamic State (IS) militants in the country.

The US military has started training Iraqi Army recruits, as it seeks to defeat Islamic State (IS) militants in the country.

Pentagon spokesperson army colonel Steve Warren said the six-week training course for four battalions of the Iraqi security forces began at a base in Taji, north of Baghdad, on 27 December, while the training of Iraqi 7th Division personnel started at Asad Air Base in the Anbar province several days earlier.

Warren added that all personnel have been vetted.

"US and coalition aircraft are conducting targeted air strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria."

The training forms part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the US military intervention against IS, and comes amid frequent harassment fire from the militants.

According to Warren, the regular indirect enemy fire at the air base has been ineffective and has drawn no return fire from US forces.

Warren was quoted by Reuters as saying: "The Iraqi security forces there have done a very good job of creating a security zone.

"American forces ... have sustained absolutely no injuries, wounds or even a close attack."

The US military personnel is expected to train 12 Iraqi brigades, including nine from the Iraqi security forces and three from the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.

In addition to Taji and Asad Air Base, two other locations in Iraq, one in Irbil and another in Besmaya, are expected to host training missions.

Since the start of the IS offensive in June last year, the Pentagon has sent thousands of soldiers to Iraq, with approximately 2,100 in the country advising and assisting Iraqi forces and safeguarding US personnel and missions.

The number is expected to increase by as many as 1,300 later this month as part of the expanded US military presence ordered by US President Barack Obama in November 2014.

As part of Operation Inherent Resolve, US and coalition aircraft are conducting targeted air strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria.