Pentagon officials are crediting the Iraqi crew of an Abrams M1A1 tank with playing a significant role in helping push Islamic State fighters out of the city of Hit, where the tank and its crew have achieved an almost “folk hero” status among the locals.
During a Tuesday press briefing, Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren told the tale of the tank crew, which he said: “has been handing it to the enemy regularly now for several days.”
The tank crew operates in the small town about 65 kilometers west of Ramadi along the Euphrates River, on the front lines of an Iraq counterterrorism service — which Warren called a great example of the Iraqi army working hand-in-hand with the counterterrorism service.
“This M1 tank has been driving all around Hit, crazy blasting IEDS, punching holes in enemy defenses, and maneuvering between multiple engagements and allowing the CTS, and other Iraqi ground forces, to explain and help evacuate civilians,” Warren said.
Warren said American advisers who watch the tank in action had given it the “hero of the day award” for the past seven days.
Warren called the tank “a bit of a folk hero,” and social media users nicknamed it “The Beast,” which is now trending on Twitter in Iraq.
During the briefing, Warren tweeted out this video of the tank in action:
— COL Steve Warren (@OIRSpox) April 13, 2016
On Monday, Iraqi forces were able to push IS fighters out of Hit and raised the Iraqi flag over the local government building for the first time since the ancient city fell to the militant group in October 2014. Iraqi forces went on the offensive in the town in February.
During the briefing, Warren said 75 percent of the city is evident, and he believes IS will be completely removed within a few days.