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US Marine second American killed in Iraq in fight against Islamic State

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 19, 2016

A U.S. Marine was killed Saturday in a rocket attack in northern Iraq, the second American killed in the fight against the Islamic State, U.S. officials said.

"Earlier today a U.S. Marine providing force protection fire support at a recently established coalition fire base near Makhmour in northern Iraq was killed after coming under ISIL rocket fire," Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement. He used an acronym for the Islamic State group.

"This is the second combat death since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve, and it reminds us of the risks our men and women in uniform face everyday," Cook said.

Several other Marines were wounded and being treated, Cook said. CBS News, citing a military official, reported one of the wounded was in critical condition. Further information would not be released until after next of kin had been notified.

The Makhmour base is outside Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, which was captured by the Islamic State group in 2014.

The attack was an "indirect fire attack," specifically rockets, a defense official told The Associated Press. Other media, citing U.S. officials, reported two rockets were fired at the base, and that one did not cause casualties or damage.

"It was a lucky strike by ISIS," a defense official told Fox News, using another acronym for the Islamic State group.

It was not immediately clear how many servicemembers were wounded. Fox News, citing a U.S. defense official, said it was fewer than five and that they were being flown to a hospital.

The governor of Nineveh province, Nawfal Hamadi, told The Wall Street Journal his sources had confirmed one U.S. servicemember had been killed and two others wounded.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the servicemembers involved, their families and their coalition teammates who will continue the fight against ISIL with resolve and determination," Cook said.

The first U.S. servicemember killed in Iraq since the campaign against the Islamic State began was Army Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler, 39. The special operations soldier was killed in a firefight in October during a raid on an Islamic State prison.

The U.S.-led coalition has reported an increase in indirect fire attacks on Makhmour with the buildup of Iraqi forces there preparing for an assault on Mosul, AP reported.

Officials have said that an offensive to retake Mosul is still months away and may not even happen this year.

news@stripes.com

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