As many as 25 ISIS fighters were killed Friday when they stormed an Iraqi military base in the hotly contested Anbar province, senior defense officials told NBC News. The ISIS group included three fighters wearing suicide vests, the officials said.
The ISIS attackers were dressed in Iraqi military uniforms, the officials said. Iraqi military forces defending the base killed the ISIS attackers, who "got to the perimeter" and may have penetrated the Iraqi defenses before all were killed, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.
No Iraqi or coalition forces were killed during the ISIS attack. American forces at the base, al-Assad, were well out of range of the fighting, more than 2 miles away at a distant section of the base. U.S. Apache attack helicopters were dispatched, but the fighting was over before they arrived. Kirby said the battle was brief.
The sprawling base has come under frequent indirect fire, rockets and mortar attacks, which have been reported to be ineffective. There are about 400 U.S. Marines at al-Assad, training and helping the Iraqi military.
Kirby also confirmed reports that ISIS fighters had seized parts of the nearby town of Baghdadi, about 6 miles from the al-Assad base. “This is the first case in months where they’ve had any success,” Kirby said. Reports from Baghdadi said that Iraqi security forces fled as ISIS fighters, including suicide bombers, stormed the town and seized government buildings.
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