Images of Americans inside the Iraqi city of Ramadi have roiled ISIS supporters, who are calling online for anyone near the western city to attack them.
A pro-ISIS channel on Telegram posted that over 60 American soldiers are in Ramadi, specifically seen inside Anbar University and being escorted by Iraqi security forces and tribal militiamen.
“They tour and walk inside the university like it is their own land,” someone in the channel posted. ‘Wake up and attack them.” Earlier this month the same channel reported “Americans are walking freely” in the area and that “civilians are greeting them, taking pictures and laughing with them.”
The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs tweeted earlier this week that it was “demining work targets stockpiles of homemade explosives, IEDs, and improvised ordnance” and “clearing the mess” in one of Ramadi’s schools.
While ISIS was routed out of Ramadi nearly a year ago, the terror group has sympathizers and former members in towns on its outskirts. The presence of U.S. officials has been keenly monitored on the ground.
This week the pro-ISIS channel reported about “American military personnel that arrived at Tareq Military Base east Fallujah,” listed other places Americans were seen in the area, including the university in Ramadi and other military camps in Anbar province. “Oh Americans, we swear to God you will regret you arrived in Anbar, as the soldiers of the Dawla (Islamic State) are everywhere. We will terrorize you, one by one.”
The channel also warned “brothers” of raids and arrest carried out by Iraqi security forces inside residential areas in Ramadi. It also posted pictures allegedly showing explosions inside and around the city that it is claiming responsibility for. The propaganda network of ISIS, the Amaq News Agency, claimed the group has launched several attacks against local security forces in the area, but did not release any images or videos to validate these claims.
The London-based al-Quds Al-Araby newspaper reported earlier this week that American troops deployed in Anbar were moving from providing air support to actually participating in missions on the ground. The paper quoted a former Iraqi army officer and a current commander of a tribal paramilitary force who said that “U.S. forces have changed their previous plans in Anbar, beginning recently to adopt a different approach. They shifted from relying on air forces and intelligence efforts to joining with governmental forces combing the province on the ground.”
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