US deploys Marines to Iraq

After ISIL rocket attack killed US soldier, Pentagon announces more Marines will be deployed on the ground in Iraq.

An ISIL fighter holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul, Iraq [REUTERS]
ISIL declared a 'caliphate' spanning northwestern Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad in 2014 [Reuters]

The US announced has announced that it will put more troops on the ground in Iraq.  

Troops from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit will add to American forces already in the country battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), the Pentagon said on Sunday.

It was unclear exactly how many Marines would be deployed, but the move was made to bolster security at a coalition base near Makhmur on the front lines with ISIL in northern Iraq.   

The announcement comes a day after the Pentagon said a US Marine was killed in an ISIL rocket attack at the base, the second American combat death in the fight against the group.

The rocket barrage occurred in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, where Baghdad has recently been deploying forces to prepare for an offensive against ISIL-controlled Mosul.

“Several other Marines were wounded and they are being treated for their varying injuries,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Michael Pregent, a Middle East analyst and former US intelligence officer, said “force protection” is paramount for Washington, especially after Saturday’s death and the killing of a US special forces soldier in 2015 who was involved in an anti-ISIL operation.

“The deployment also talks to the need to have more US advisers and special operators on the ground with the Iraqi security forces to fight ISIS,” Pregent told Al Jazeera. 

READ MORE: Iraq’s forgotten ISIL prisoners

Meanwhile, at least two dozen Iraqi security forces were killed in suicide attacks launched by ISIL on Sunday in restive Anbar province, the scene of near-daily violence.

An Iraqi military source told Al Jazeera at least 24 Iraqi forces were killed, while 12 others were wounded in the blasts in the municipality of Haqlaniyah, southwest of Hadeetha city.

Civilians flee Ramadi as ISIL hits back at Iraqi forces

ISIL fighters with explosive vests sneaked into Haqlaniyah and at least three entered a municipal building and detonated their explosives. 

Fighters clashed with Iraqi soldiers backed by popular mobilisation forces, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Last week, at least 47 Iraqi soldiers were killed in a series of attacks by ISIL fighters near Anbar’s strategic city of Ramadi.

Residents of Anbar account for more than a third of the 3.2 million people displaced by fighting in Iraq since the start of 2014, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Under a stepped-up campaign of US-led and Russian air strikes, as well as ground assaults by multiple forces in each country, ISIL is estimated to have lost about 40 percent of its territory in Iraq and more than 20 percent in Syria.

At its highest point in the summer of 2014, the group had overrun nearly a third of each country, declaring a “caliphate” spanning from northwestern Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad.

 ISIL mounts attacks as Iraqi forces advance in Ramadi

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies