Pentagon assigns new marine group to Iraq to fight ISIL
WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency
AFP photoThe Pentagon has assigned a detachment of U.S. marines on the ground in Iraq to support international coalition efforts against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), it announced on March 20, one day after one U.S. marine was killed in an ISIL attack in northern Iraq.
The group of marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit will provide additional support to Iraqi security forces and the U.S.-led coalition, which is already on the ground, to defeat ISIL, according to a statement by the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve.
The assignment was carried out after consultation with the Iraqi government, the statement added. How this new additional group will support efforts against ISIL on the ground was however not clarified in the statement.
The 26th Marine Unit is currently deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, including the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
The announcement came one day after a U.S. marine was killed and several others were wounded in a rocket attack coming from ISIL on an Iraqi base.
“Earlier today [March 19] a U.S. marine providing force protection fire support at a recently established coalition fire base near Makhmur in northern Iraq was killed after coming under ISIL rocket fire,” a statement said, according to AFP.
Makhmur is a district around 70 kilometers southeast of the main ISIL hub of Mosul and 280 kilometers north of Baghdad.
It lies within territory controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, but Baghdad has recently been deploying federal forces there to prepare for an offensive against Mosul.
“Several other marines were wounded and they are being treated for their varying injuries,” the Pentagon said.