WASHINGTON — Several Islamic State fighters who led a suicide attack on an air base where US and coalition forces are training Iraqi forces were killed by Iraqi troops, the Pentagon said Friday.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said an estimated 20 to 25 Islamic State militants were involved in the attack on al-Asad air base in Anbar province. He said the attack was led by “at least several” suicide bombers, some of whom managed to detonate their bombs before they were killed by Iraqi troops.
No Iraqi or US troops were killed or wounded, Kirby said.
Kirby also said Islamic State fighters had taken control of al-Baghdadi, a town near the al-Asad air base. He said this represented “the first (time) in at least a couple of months, if not more, where they have had any success in taking any new ground.”
Kirby said it was not clear whether the attackers at al-Asad managed to penetrate the perimeter of the base, which is a sprawling series of compounds. “Information is still coming in,” he said, which may clarify some details.
There are about 400 US troops at the base, but Kirby said none of the Americans was involved in the fighting. Another Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steven Warren, said the US troops were about two miles away, in a different section of the base.
US unmanned surveillance aircraft and Army Apache attack helicopters were sent to the scene from Baghdad, but the attack was over before they arrived, so they did not engage in fighting, Warren said.