BuzzFeed News; OpenStreetMap, DigitalGlobe
Mike Giglio, BuzzFeed News: Inside the Real US Ground War On ISIS
As the US and its allies prepare to launch a major offensive for Mosul, US service members are on the ground in growing numbers — and increasingly in harm’s way. Mike Giglio reports from the bases and front lines where they work around northern Iraq.
ERBIL, Iraq — The Black Hawk helicopter pushed into ISIS territory through the pre-dawn sky. Joshua Wheeler, a veteran master sergeant with US special operations, was taking his men deep behind enemy lines. As the chopper descended on the ISIS stronghold of Hawija in northern Iraq, back in Washington, US president Barack Obama, who had been notified of the mission, waited for word of its fate.
Wheeler and his team were at the forefront of the hidden war US special operations troops are waging against ISIS. With him in the chopper were fellow members of the US Army’s elite Delta Force and some of the local commandos they had trained. Decked in desert camouflage and equipped with high-tech automatic weapons and night vision, the US and local soldiers looked almost identical.
Their mission, carried out on Oct. 22, was more dangerous than most. It called for the men to infiltrate a guarded compound that ISIS had converted into a prison and rescue dozens of men who, according to intelligence reports, were scheduled to be executed that day.
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WNU Editor: Everyone is getting ready for the big offensive to retake Mosul .... and the U.S. is expanding its role.