U.S. soldiers celebrate thanksgiving in a military base north of Iraq

November 24, 2016 12:15 PM EST

U.S. soldiers serve food to fellow soldiers as they celebrate Thanksgiving Day inside the U.S. army base in Qayyara, south of Mosul, Iraq November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

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By Hamuda Hassan and Thaier al-Sudani

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. troops celebrated Thanksgiving at an Iraqi army base in Qayyara, some 60 km (38 miles) south of Mosul, where a U.S.-led coalition is helping Iraqi forces battle Islamic State.

Dozens of soldiers lined up, rifles slung over their shoulders and heads bowed, as one member recited a Thanksgiving prayer.

Around 5,000 soldiers are currently in northern Iraq, assisting and advising Iraqi forces participating in the offensive to recapture Mosul from Islamic State.

"I want to tell my family now to be thankful that all these people out here and be thankful for being alive... That's all," said Joe Hamilton one of the soldiers at the base.

Roast turkey, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, was served to the soldiers who cheered and clapped as they stood in a single file waiting for their meal.

"It's my first time away from home, definitely it's a little bit hard, but I'll be able to call my family on Facetime later then I'll be able to share the holiday with them that way," said Amanda Harrison of the 2nd Brigade.

(Writing by Saif Hameed; editing by Patrick Markey and Toby Chopra)

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