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Jan 1, 2016

Kurds Get Close Air Support, Promise of Direct US Aid

 Kurdish forces, along with ethnic allies, recently seized the town of Sinjar in a 48 hour battle.  Very efficiently done.  The report I read says that the vast majority of ISIS casualties were the result of coalition air strikes.  The results described mean that someone was calling in close air support very effectively.  It could be US, Canadian or British Special Forces.  It could be Peshmerga trained to do the job for themselves.  But the big difference from earlier battles is how close the air support is.  Previously, we were hitting ISIS targets that were a distance away from any ground contact with friendly forces.  We wanted to avoid "friendly fire" accidents like the one reported December 17, where 10 Iraqi Army soldiers were reported killed by a coalition air strike near Fallujah.  There seems to have been much tighter coordination with the Peshmerga.


The other part of the announcement is also startling.  It seems to say the US is going to deliver a lot of heavy equipment directly to Iraqi Kurdistan.  Up to now, US policy was that all arms deliveries had to be physically delivered or at least authorized by the Baghdad government.  The quoted statement does not seem to have any such qualification.  However, Secretary of State Ash Carter included enough obscurity in his statement that it will not be taken as a new beginning for US military aid policy until the weapons actually are delivered in Erbil.

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