Militants attacked one of Iraq's largest air bases on Wednesday as U.S. military experts arrived to set up an operations center to help Iraqi security forces counter a mounting Sunni insurgency. The al Qaeda-linked fighters surrounded the massive air base, which was known as "Camp Anaconda" under U.S. occupation, and struck it with mortars. Eyewitnesses said the air base had been surrounded on three sides.
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President Barack Obama has offered up to 300 advisers to Iraq, about 130 of whom have now been deployed. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said on Tuesday an initial group sent to establish an operations center included intelligence analysts, logistics experts and special operations forces. Another 50 military personnel working in the region are expected to arrive within the next few days to create four additional assessment teams, he said. U.S. military personnel are also flying regular manned and unmanned reconnaissance flights.