US Marines Move Into Syria With Howitzers

Marines with Bravo Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, reloads the M777 Lightweight 155mm howitzer during Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 2-17, aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, Feb. 11, 2017.
U.S. Marine Corps photo

Editor’s Note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.

Marines attached to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit quietly moved into Syria weeks ago to establish an artillery base, defense officials confirmed to on Wednesday.

The move comes as American-backed forces intensify their assault on Raqqa, the Islamic State's capital city.

The Washington Post first reported Wednesday that Marines attached to the MEU -- which is deployed around the Middle East, conducting training in countries including Oman and Djibouti -- had departed their ships and moved into Syria.

A defense official would not speak to the size of the detachment deployed to Syria, but said it included elements of multiple artillery batteries, as well as support personnel, including infantry Marines. It's the first time American artillery support capability has been on the ground in Syria since the fight against the Islamic State began in 2014.

The Marines are equipped with M777 155mm howitzers, which can fire high-explosive rounds, effective at a range of more than 14 miles, or GPS-guided Excalibur rounds, which have an effective radius of up to 25 miles. They are there to provide capabilities for the commanders of the joint task force leading the ISIS fight and to support the push into Raqqa, the official said.

This is the second time in just over a year that a Marine artillery detachment has been deployed from a MEU in support of the ground fight against ISIS militants. In March 2016, more than 100 Marines departed the 26th MEU to establish Fire Base Bell, an artillery position in northern Iraq set up to provide support as ground troops prosecuted an assault on the ISIS stronghold of Mosul.

On March 19, 2016, one of the Marines, Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin, was killed in a rocket attack on the base that left four other Marines wounded, becoming the first American military casualty in Iraq since 2011. The Marine Corps element would eventually be replaced by an Army battery later in 2016.

The news of the Marine artillery element in Syria comes shortly after Army Stryker combat vehicles were spotted in Northeast Syria. The revelation prompted Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition prosecuting the ISIS fight, to confirm via Twitter that American troops had moved near Manbij, about 90 miles northwest of Raqqa.

On Monday, Pentagon officials confirmed that American-backed militia troops in Syria had taken control of a key route out of Raqqa, dealing an important setback to ISIS fighters.

A surge of U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq was one of the options recently presented by the Pentagon to President Donald Trump as a way to accelerate the campaign against ISIS. Trump and Defense Department leadership have yet to indicate what they plan to do.

The article originally appeared on

More from

Two Air Force pararescue Airmen were awarded the Silver Star Medal on Friday for saving dozens of lives during separate Afghan battles in 2018 and 2019.

Tech Sgt. Gavin Fisher and Staff Sgt. Daniel Swensen both received the third highest military award for their bravery. Fisher also received the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat.

Read More Show Less
Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews the honor guards of the Chinese People's Liberation (PLA) Navy before boarding the destroyer Xining for the naval parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in Qingdao, Shandong province, China April 23, 2019. Xinhua via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government covertly moved to expel two officials from the Chinese embassy earlier this year, after they drove onto a military base, the New York Times reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

The newspaper reported on Sunday that one of the two Chinese officials is believed to be an intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover.

The Chinese officials breached security at a base in Virginia this fall, and only stopped driving after fire trucks were used to block their path, the Times said.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

President Donald Trump is set to announce the withdrawal of roughly 4,000 US troops from Afghanistan as early as next week, NBC News reported on Saturday based on conversations with three current and former officials.

This would come as the US is engaged in ongoing, troubled peace talks with the Taliban. The talks resumed in early December after Trump abruptly scrapped negotiations with the Taliban in September, only to be paused again this week after an attack near Bagram Airfield on Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Photo: National Archives

Thomas Hoke can still recall the weather in December 1944, and the long days that followed.

The battle started on Dec. 16, but his company arrived Dec. 27 and would stay there until the battle's end, nearly a month later. By the time he arrived, snow had blanketed Germany in what was one of the biggest storms the country had seen in years.

"It was 20 below and a heavy fog encompassed the whole area," Hoke, 96, recalled from his Emmitsburg home.

The fog was to Germany's advantage because Allied aircraft were grounded, including recognizance flights, allowing the Nazis to slip in.

Read More Show Less

West Point is investigating a hand gesture made by several cadets and midshipmen during an ESPN pre-game broadcast at the Army-Navy game Saturday after clips of the signals went viral because of their association with white power.

"West Point is looking into the matter," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "At this time we do not know the intent of the cadets."

Read More Show Less