US ground forces are reportedly being deployed in the fight against ISIS in Iraq, according to witnesses in the war-torn country.
A report in Al Jazeera Sunday cited residents of the city of Al-Baghdadi, in Iraq's western Anbar province, as claiming they saw Humvees with American troops moving in to reinforce embattled Iraqi army forces fighting jihadists in the area.
Police First Lieutenant Muneer al-Qoud later told Al Jazeera TV that the US soldiers had come from the al-Assad military base.
US officials have denied their ground forces are involved in the fight against ISIS. A US-led air campaign against the terrorist group has succeeded in killing several senior ISIS leaders, and enabled Kurdish forces in northern Iraq to make major gains, but the US and its coalition partners say they have no appetite for "boots on the ground".
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters continue to battle ISIS around the city of Sinjar Sunday, after finally breaking the Islamists' siege of the Sinjar mountain range and rescuing roughly 1,500 Yazidi families stranded there.
Photos show Peshmerga soldiers celebrating and tearing down ISIS flags as they continued to make gains in the area. One picture released by the Kurdish Rudaw website shows how retreating ISIS fighters left graffiti denouncing the victorious Kurds as "The dogs of Israel."
But Iraq's national army has fared much worse, and its troops were facing significant difficulties in repelling ISIS's offensive against the al-Assad base in particular.
The latest reports of US troops backing their Iraqi counterparts corroborate earlier claims in Iraqi media outlets last week that some of the roughly 100 US "military advisers" in the al-Assad base were aiding Iraqi troops in defending the base from ISIS. US President Barack Obama recently approved doubling the number of advisers, trainers and support personnel in Iraq, according to US media reports.
Meanwhile, Kurdish YPG fighters - backed by Peshmerga and a small number of Free Syrian Army fighters - have gained ground against ISIS in northern Syria.
The Kurds have advanced in six neighborhoods of the besieged town of Kobane, which has been at the center of a bloody struggle against ISIS, with YPG forces holding out against a jihadi onslaught for months before counterattacking.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed YPG forces in Kobane killed 10 ISIS fighters in clashes over Saturday.