On Friday, the Pentagon announced that an American Marine was the first to die in Iraq after being sent there as part of a contingency of troops to combat Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Although the Washington Post reports the young Marine did not die in combat, the circumstances of his death have not yet been released.
The Marine was identified as 19-year-old Sean Neal, a Lance Cpl. from Riverside, California. Neal died while stationed in Baghdad for “Operation Inherent Resolve.” Troops have been stationed in Baghdad and Irbil to advise Iraqi soldiers and support the air strikes against extremist Islamic groups threatening the area.
Neal enlisted in July 2013 to become a Marine, and was stationed at Twentynine Palms as part of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine regiment who were deployed to Iraq last month. He was part of the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force assigned to the region and specialized in mortars.
This is the second Marine death reported in the region. Earlier this month, the Inquisitr posted a story about a Marine presumed dead after ejecting out of an airplane over the North Persian Gulf. Research operations were called off when the Marine couldn’t be located. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Marine who died in that incident was identified as Cpl. Jordan Spears, 21.
Although President Obama had vowed that no more combat troops would be sent to Iraq, the administration approved sending additional troops to the area to increase security at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Operation Inherent Resolve also saw Marine forces going into the region to help bolster efforts against Islamic State militants threatening the Iraqi government and the nearby Kurdish region.
Islamic radicals are not only threatening governments in Iraq and Syria, but they have threatened retaliation attacks in the west. Two attacks this week in Canada and New York City have been blamed on self-radicalized Islamics, though neither attacker has been linked to any Islamic group, including ISIS.
Though there is growing concern about U.S. troops being sent back to Iraq, The Guardian reports that Rear Admiral John Kirby asked for patience regarding the mission.
“We believe the strategy is working; that the policy is sound, the coalition continues to gain both momentum and strength.”
As many as 5,000 Marine troops could be sent to the region over the coming year to help with efforts to curb militant threats. Do you think the administration is justified in sending more troops to Iraq or should we stay out of the region? Comment and let us know what you think.
[Image courtesy of Stars and Stripes]