By Baran Hines
Pentagon officials confirmed on Saturday that a U.S. Marine was killed in a rocket attack by Islamic State in Northern Iraq. The attack occurred Saturday as ISIS targeted a US-led coalition firebase near Makhmur, according to a Pentagon statement released Saturday.
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook reported that the Marines are “providing force protection fire support at a recently established coalition fire base,” which is near the front lines of the operation against Islamic State. Cook added that several other Marines were wounded in the Islamic State attack. Islamic State terrorists fired two rockets from about 15 kilometers away and the Marines immediately returned fire.
A firebase typically supports ground forces with artillery fire. The new base, “Fire Base Bell” is defending another coalition base where the United States is working with about 5,000 Iraqi forces in preparation for the operation to retake Mosul. Islamic State has maintained tight control of Mosul since their rapid growth to the north in Kurdish regions near the Turkey border and west across the Syria-Iraq border.
The existence of the firebase was not public information; however, an unnamed official told CNN that the Pentagon had planned to acknowledge the location this week. The base has “couple of hundred” Marines living in tents and “it is assumed ISIS observed the Marines moving into the area and saw them firing practice rounds with their howitzers,” according to the same official.
Sunday, the Pentagon identified the Marine as Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, of Temecula, California. Cardin was a member the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He is only the second combat death confirmed since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition operation to fight Islamic State. Last October, a U.S. soldier was killed during a special operations raid to free hostages of Islamic State in Hawija, also in northern Iraq.
Sunday marks the 13th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.