Weeks after Obama announced the end of combat operations in the Iraq War, ‘residual troops’ engaged in lethal combat reportedly for the second time over the weekend.

13 Sept 2010 | InfoShop News

In a coordinated raid near Baghdad, U.S. ‘non-combat’ troops engaged in combat, supporting Iraqi forces against rebels, Timothy Williams reported Sunday at The New York Times.

Almost a month ago, the Pentagon announced the amount of U.S. troops in Iraq were under 50,000 and that combat operations were over. There has never been any indication that the war to prop up the Iraqi government-without-a-face was over and those ‘residual troops’ were remaining to engage in combat alongside the Iraqi forces’ operations.

The U.S. military’s involvement in this raid was the second such reported combat operation in which it has engaged in firefight since Washington’s announcement it would not be coordinating such operations any longer.

“It was the second major combat U.S. troops have been involved in since the Obama Administration announced the ‘end’ of the combat operations with a series of formal announcements,” Jason Ditz wrote at AntiWar News. “Last week U.S. troops engaged in a fight in Baghdad when insurgents attacked Baghdad military headquarters.” Of the twelve killed, two were of the U.S. Armed Forces.

“The United States military did not confirm its role in the fighting,” Mr. Williams reported, later adding that Iraqi officials confirmed U.S. soldiers fired from helicopters and acted with Iraqi forces on the ground. Three were killed—an “insurgent”, an Iraqi soldier and a local police officer—and ten were wounded in the operation.

“There were no American casualties in the fighting in Hudaidy, a village about 50 miles from Baghdad that has long harbored members of the Sunni insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia,” he added:

But Iraqi military and civilian officials said American helicopters and some ground troops had taken part after Iraqi forces requested assistance. The Iraqis had come under fire while raiding Sunni insurgent hide-outs in the agricultural area.

[…]

On Sunday, Maj. Dhalib Attiya of the Diyala Police said insurgents had placed bombs at the perimeter of a 12-acre palm grove in Hudaidy to prevent Iraqi forces from approaching.

Some of the fighters then climbed into tall palms and fired at Iraqi Army and police units with sniper rifles, he said.

Isam Shakar Mizher, a member of the security committee of the Diyala Provincial Council, said Iraqi forces sought help from American helicopters after being unable to locate the snipers.

“This support was necessary to deal with some of these targets,” Mr. Mizher said.

After arriving American helicopters fired rockets at the snipers, United States soldiers on the ground helped Iraqi troops defuse at least two bombs planted by insurgents, Iraqi officials said.

The battle started Saturday afternoon after Iraqi security forces arrested at least eight men suspected of having ties to the insurgency, the Iraqi police said.

Not long afterward, Iraqi soldiers and police officers were attacked near the orchard, and a police officer was killed by a bomb. Major Attiya said the Americans did not join the fight until Sunday morning, after the Iraqi military had formally requested assistance.

Mr. Ditz added that it is highly likely the U.S. will definitely keep troops in Iraq past the withdrawal date demanded by the Iraqi Parliament and agreed to by the Bush Administration in late 2008:

Some 50,000 U.S. troops remain on the ground and though the administration is still officially pointing to the end of 2011 as the date for their withdrawal, privately officials say troops will almost certainly remain past that date. Iraqi Defense Minister [Lt. Gen. Abd al-Qadr Muhammed Jassim al-Obaidi] insisted last week that U.S. troops would remain through at least 2016 and might remain more or less forever.

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