US deploys attack helicopters as fight intensifies against jihadis

 
Joseph Millis
THE US has begun using Apache AH-64 attack helicopters to strike at jihadi targets in Iraq, the first time they have been used in this operation.

A defence official confirmed yesterday that Apache helicopters were used this weekend as part of four airstrikes on a large jihadi force northeast of Fallujah. The attack was conducted in coordin­ation with Air Force fighter aircraft that supported the operation.

A press release by US Central Command said the air strikes near Fallujah “struck two mortar teams, a large Islamic State [IS] unit and two small units.”

The official said the strikes northeast of Fallujah were coordinated with Iraqi security forces to support their operations.

“It’s a capability we have, that they asked for, and that could contribute to their operations” the official said.

In recent weeks, Iraqi security forces have struggled against IS forces that have attacked several cities in Anbar Province west of Baghdad.

Jihadi victories there could pose an even greater security threat to Iraq’s capital.

As of Friday, the Pentagon said it had conducted 334 airstrikes against IS — 248 in Iraq and 86 airstrikes in Syria.