Marines expand combat role in coordination with Iraqi attacks on ISIL

AP/Fox News:
U.S. Marines operating out of a small outpost in Iraq provided artillery and targeting support for Iraqi troops Thursday, expanding the American combat role in the country as the operation to retake Mosul from Islamic State militants inched ahead.

A senior U.S. official said the Marines fired illumination rounds to help the Iraqi forces locate IS fighters, and also fired artillery rounds in support of the operation, as Iraqi troops took control of several villages on the outskirts of the town of Makhmour, southeast of Mosul. The official was not authorized to discuss the operation by name and requested anonymity.

American fighter jets also participated in the operation, launching multiple airstrikes on at least two locations, hitting enemy rocket and mortar positions, the official said.

U.S. military officials on Monday confirmed the creation of the Marine outpost, dubbed Fire Base Bell....
The Pentagon is still playing semantics with the combat role.  As long as they stay within the wire, they are suggesting it is not a combat role, but I suspect they will be entitled to combat ribbons for their service in this fire base.  The description of their role suggest it is an artillery unit with some force protection troops.


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