Following the death of a US Marine in northern Iraq in an ISIS rocket attack on Saturday, the Pentagon has announced that they are in the process of deploying an undisclosed number of additional Marines to Iraq.
The troops will be a detachment from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and will be sent support Iraqi forces and international ground operations, according to the Pentagon.
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While the escalation is being presented as a response to the rocket fire, which officials continue to insist was a “lucky shot,” officials are also being more straightforward in their intentions for these troops to take part in combat upon deployment, after months of claiming troops in combat were somehow “trainers.”
The number of troops deployed, and how big a force this will have the US up to in Iraq, remains unknown, but the US was already confirmed to have more troops in Iraq than their diplomatic deal with the Abadi government permitted, and has only increased the number of troops since.
Pentagon officials are still being somewhat evasive about the Saturday rocket strikes as well, confirming there were wounded Marines too, but refusing to say how many, beyond “less than five.”
CNN is reporting that the attack was actually against a US firebase which the Pentagon has yet to admit even exists in Iraq yet, and that they had been planning to announce the base’s existence sometime this week, before an ISIS attack apparently ruined the surprise. Pentagon officials had previously indicated that the troops were at an Iraqi military base in the same area.
Shiite militia forces in Iraq have strongly opposed the new deployment of US troops to the country.
The Iranian backed militias have warned that if Washington does not withdraw its forces “immediately,” they will deal with them “as forces of occupation.”