Helicopters for IS fight

The US military is flying Apache helicopters against Islamic State rebels in Iraq for the first time, exposing US troops to greater risk from ground fire as they help Iraqi forces battle the Islamist group that has overrun parts of the country.

US troops flew helicopters against Islamic State fighters on Sunday and again on Monday as they struck at mortar teams and other units near Fallujah, said a spokesman for Central Command, which is responsible for US forces in the Middle East.

“This was the first time rotary wing aircraft were used in co-ordination with and in support of ISF (Iraqi Security Force) operations,” Army Major Curtis Kellogg said in an email.

“The Iraqi government asked for support with this capability near Fallujah to push back (Islamic State).”

US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the helicopters that were used were Apache attack helicopters.

Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for a New American Security think tank, said the military’s decision to use Apaches “demonstrates that they’ve only achieved limited results with the air strikes from fighters and bombers and drones.”

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