Another incident has been reported at “Firebase Bell” just two days after a deadly rocket attack killed a US Marine there.
The firebase was just established last week and its existence was made public after the death of 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin. Cardin was a field artilleryman with the Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines.
The second attack at the new outpost in northern Iraq happened Monday morning, but no injuries were reported. The small-arms fire attack was carried out by a “squad size” team of Islamic State fighters who likely “infiltrated” the area around the Iraqi and U.S. military facilities, said Army Col. Steve Warren.
After questioning by CNN’s Barbara Starr at a Pentagon briefing, Col. Warren said, two ISIS members were killed during the attack and the rest “ran away in fear”.
Warren, a Defense Department spokesman in Baghdad, said there are no Iraqi forces at Firebase Bell and the Marines are there to “boost force protection at the nearby base in Makhmour.”
The Marines are considered “temporary” and not part of the 3,800 U.S. troops currently authorized for full-time deployment to Iraq, Military Times reports.
Firebase Bell is about 10 miles away from the “forward line of troops,” or FLOT, that separates the Kurdish and Iraqi controlled zone of northeastern Iraq from IS-held territory in the Tigris River valley.
ISIS has launched mustard gas attacks in the area of Makhmour, which has become a frequent scene of intense fighting between the Kurds and ISIS militants. It is also a key staging area for the Iraqi Army’s planned assault on Mosul — the largest city under ISIS control.
Cardin deployed to Iraq with a company of about 200 Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to help set up the new enclosed facility, near the expanding Iraqi military base. Warren says the U.S. advisers will give combat advice and support to Iraqi units, as they plan their upcoming full-scale invasion of Mosul.
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