WASHINGTON, Oct 22 (KUNA) -- The coalition welcomed the first of many fixed-wing cargo planes to Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, on Friday after US Air Force engineers with the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Group repaired the airfield during the last three weeks, the Combined Joint Task Force announced on Saturday.
The newly opened runway will allow the coalition to increase the rate of logistical support for Iraqi security forces engaged in the Mosul offensive, the announcement said.
The coalition also announced on Saturday that it had provided more than 24,000 protective chemical masks to Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga in preparation for the Mosul offensive against the so-called Islamic State (IS).
"The enemy has used chemical weapons in the past, and we are going to make sure we are taking every measure to mitigate the risk to our forces," said Major General Gary Volesky, commander of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command of Operation Inherent Resolve. "Force protection is my number one priority here."
Meanwhile, coalition military forces conducted 18 strikes against IS -- six in Syria and 12 in Iraq, the task force announced.
In Syria, the strikes hit near Abu Kamal, Al Shadaddi, Ayn Isa and Washiyah, the announcement said.
In Iraq, the strikes occurred near Al Huwayjah, Al Qaim, Bashir, Mosul, Sinjar and Sultan Abdallah, the statement said. (end)