US sends more troops to Iraq

Us troopsMore U.S. military troops are going to Iraq in the aftermath of an Islamic State rocket killing a Marine and seriously injuring others this weekend, the Pentagon said Sunday.

The attack occurred Saturday in the northern Iraq town of Makhmur, roughly 75 miles southeast of the ISIS-stronghold Mosul.

The undisclosed number of troops will be a detachment from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and will support Iraqi forces and international ground operations, according to the Pentagon, which issued the announcement for the U.S.-led Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

The Pentagon on Sunday identified the Marine who died as Staff Sgt. Louis F.Cardin, of Temecula, Calif. Cardin was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th MEU out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

President Obama has pledged numerous times there would be no “boots on the ground” in the fight against the Islamic State, the terror group also known as ISIS.

Roughly 3,700 U.S. troops are now on the ground in Iraq advising the Iraqi Army. Earlier this month, a brigade from the 101st Airborne Division relieved a similar-sized brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division.

The 26th MEU is deployed to maintain regional security in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean, according to the Pentagon.

Members of the unit are aboard three U.S. Navy amphibious assault ships: the USS Kearsarge, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington and the dock-landing ship USS Oak Hill, according to the unit’s website.

The unit and the Navy amphibious-ready group deployed in October from Norfolk, Va.

Exactly how many people were injured in the attack Saturday is still unclear.

However, a U.S. official said the number is less than five and that they were flown to a hospital away from the base.

“It was a lucky strike by ISIS,” the official also said.

The Marine who died in the attack is the second American killed fighting ISIS since combat operations began in August 2014.

In October, Army Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler was killed during a hostage rescue in Iraq. He was the first American casualty in Iraq since the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011.

In December, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the deployment of a 200-man special operations task force to northern Iraq to begin kill/capture missions against the Islamic State.

Last month, the assault force captured alive a mid-level ISIS operative tied to the group’s chemical weapons program.

After weeks of interrogation he was turned over to Iraqi forces. A U.S. military spokesman said the U.S. would still have access to question him further should the need arise.

It was the second time in the past year that U.S. Special Forces have captured an ISIS operative from the battlefield.

In May, a Delta Force team killed Abu Sayyaf and captured his wife, Umm Sayyaf, during a nighttime raid in Syria.

The Justice Department recently charged Umm Sayyaf with conspiracy to kill 26-year-old American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who was held captive by the Sayyafs and later became a sex slave for ISIS emir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (Courtesy Fox News)


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