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Iran Press TV

Obama admits US troops died in combat in Iraq

Iran Press TV

Sat May 28, 2016 4:35PM

US President Barack Obama has acknowledged that three American troops who recently died in Iraq were killed in combat; despite claims that US forces deployed to Iraq and Syria are on a mission to support, train and equip local forces.

In an interview with the Stars and Stripes newspaper on Friday, Obama said that the three US servicemen, Charles Keating, Joshua Wheeler and Louis Cardin lost their lives in combat.

"These three men were killed in combat while they were supporting local forces in Iraq," Obama said.

Keating was killed in May while Cardin was killed in March. Wheeler was killed in October 2015.

White House and Pentagon officials had formerly said that the soldiers were killed in combat, but this was the first time that Obama himself acknowledged the fact.

"As commander in chief, I've spoken as clearly as I can about our mission against the [Daesh] both what it is and what it is not," Obama said. "This is a dangerous mission, and our forces will sometimes face combat situations."

"Our mission in Iraq, first and foremost, is to support Iraqi forces as they take the lead in fighting ISIL on the ground," Obama added.

Washington has deployed dozens of US forces to Iraq and Syria in what it claims is an effort to shore up local militant groups against Daesh. US officials have so far maintained that the forces on the ground are prohibited under the rules of engagement to conduct offensive military operations.

There are also dozens of US special operations forces in Syria, who are working closely with a collection of various armed groups that are trying to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The US has also been supplying the militants with ammunition.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. Hundreds of thousands of people have reportedly lost their lives and millions have been displaced as a result of the violence.

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