Displaced Iraqi people, who fled the violence in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, celebrate after their city was liberated from the Islamic State group on December 29, 2015 at the Alkzenzanah camp in the capital Baghdad. AFP PHOTO / SABAH ARAR
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Foreign special forces have been carrying out raids on an ISIS stronghold in northern Iraq ahead of an offensive planned later this year to retake Mosul, the largest city under the group's control, Iraq's parliamentary speaker said.Both the U.S. and Iraqi military have denied that U.S. forces have carried out military operations on the ground in Hawija since October, when U.S. special forces rescued 69 Iraqis in a raid that killed one U.S. commando.Washington said last month it was deploying a new force of around 100 special operations troops to Iraq to conduct raids against ISIS there and in neighboring Syria, without providing details.U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for the international coalition bombing ISIS, rejected the media reports this week, calling them "Iranian disinformation" aimed at distracting from Iraqi military gains against ISIS elsewhere. The militias, many of which fought U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion, have decried the reports of more recent raids as U.S. attempts to divide Iraq.
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