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US troops in Iraq's Anbar as anti-IS campaign expands

Iraqi Shiite militiamen after a conference on fighting the Islamic State group, at the Al-Asad air base in Iraq's mainly Sunni Anbar province, on November 11, 2014Al-Asad Air Base (Iraq) (AFP) – A team of US troops was on the ground in Iraq’s Anbar province on Tuesday as Washington steps up efforts to help Iraqi forces battle the Islamic State jihadist group. The Pentagon confirmed about 50 military personnel were at Al-Asad air base to assess it for the possible deployment of a larger contingent of advisers and trainers to assist Iraqi security forces. President Barack Obama has announced plans to double the number of American troops in Iraq to up to 3,100 as US-led efforts against the jihadists enter what he called a “new phase”. Parts of mainly Sunni Anbar province have become a stronghold for IS, which has seized control of swathes of Iraq and Syria, and some of Baghdad’s forces who were hard-pressed by the jihadists fell back to Al-Asad air base.

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