World Bulletin / News Desk
As U.S. air strikes against rebels from the so-called 'Islamic State' (IS) in Iraq expands, speculation has emerged that U.S. ground troops are already fighting alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga, despite denial from the Pentagon.
The Daily Beast has reported that American Special Operations Forces helped Iraqi Kurdish troops to retake strategic positions from IS fighters in Zumar on Monday, after Kurdish officials admitted that weapons flown in from countries including the U.S. and Germany were used in the offensive.
Residents around Zumar fled the cross-fire between the peshmerga and IS fighters which erupted after U.S. air strikes paved the way for Kurdish forces to begin advancing from Erbil on Monday morning.
It was amid that chaos that Daily Beast correspondents based in northern Iraq who were covering the battle reported seeing multiple armored Toyotas packed with 'bearded Western Special Operations Forces' sweep into action.
'They didn’t wear any identifying insignia but they were visibly Western and appeared to match all the visual characteristics of American special operations soldiers,' Daily Beast correspondent Ford Sypher said.
According to Sypher, the Kurdish intelligence service and Peshmerga leadership confirmed that German and American special operations teams were 'on the ground' to support them in the attack on IS rebels.
However, when posed with a question by the Daily Beast about the unmarked gound troops, the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command spokesman Captain Rick Haupt denied the presence of U.S. troops in or around Zumar.
Kurdish peshmerga forces have been battling against the IS since the group took control of Iraq's second biggest city Mosul on June 10, backed by Sunni Arab tribes who had been largely sidelined by the Shiite dominated government of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad.
The situation forced the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq to strengthen its defences and move in to the oil-rich Turkmen city of Kirkuk against the advancing IS fighters.
Thousands of Iraqi Turkmen, Kurds, Yazidis, Christians and other minority groups have dealt with the brunt of the fighting, which has forced them to leave their homes and seek refuge in neighboring Turkey and remote areas such as Sinjar mountain.Last Mod: 03 Eylül 2014, 11:53