Pentagon uses Apache helicopters in ISIS war

Pentagon uses Apache helicopters in ISIS war

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT — Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Monday that U.S. commanders in Iraq have used Apache helicopters to attack the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in operations near Mosul.

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"In the last 24 hours, ... commanders have used the Apache capability that we positioned there," Carter said aboard a military aircraft on his way to a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels. 

"That's the first time it's been called into action," he added. 

A senior defense official said more than one Apache flew the mission, although only one struck; the official said an ISIS target was destroyed. 

The use of the low-flying helicopters adds a new role for U.S. forces in combat against ISIS, though at increased risk.

Asked if U.S. troops are now involved in "offensive combat," Carter said: "We're dropping bombs everyday, we're firing missiles, we have people who are advising." 
 
"All of these operations involve risk. There are pilots right now in the air over Syria and Iraq, and they're at risk" he added.

Carter said the operation took place at the request of the Iraqi government. The Apache capability was first offered to the Iraqis in the offensive to retake Ramadi, but it was not used.  

Carter said Apaches were used to help Iraqi forces position themselves. 

— Updated 2:41 p.m.