Austin: ISIS Does Not Pose Threat to Baghdad Airport

Despite terrorist attacks in the Baghdad suburbs and clashes in cities such as Ramadi, US Central Command boss Army Gen. Lloyd Austin told Pentagon reporters on Friday that military assessments have not detected an “appreciable increase” in ISIS’ presence in Anbar Province since August. The province remains “contested,” he said, and Centcom is working with the Iraqi government to build better ties with officials from the region’s tribes, much like the efforts during the Iraqi “surge” in 2007-2008. Austin added he did not see an imminent threat to Baghdad’s international airport, located some 10 miles west of downtown, where a sizeable presence of US troops are deployed to maintain logistics operations. He noted both AH-64 Apache helicopters patrol the areas around the airport and other aircraft routinely conduct ISR. There is a possibility ISIS elements could launch mortar or rocket fire at the airport, he noted, but there are no threats to the airfield’s continued operations. “I feel fairly confident the airfield will be secure for the foreseeable future,” Austin said. (Austin transcript.)