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Camp Pendleton-Based Marines Move Into Syria For ‘Temporary’ Ground Mission

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

U.S. Service members with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit walk from their staging area to a Landing Craft Air Cushion at Senoor Beach, Oman after completing Exercise Sea Soldier, Mar. 3, 2017.

A group of Camp Pendleton Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit have departed their ships in the Middle East and moved into Syria to help fight ISIS.

The Pentagon has deployed 400 Marines on the ground to help Syrian fighters gain control of the northern city of Raqqa.

“These Marines are providing artillery fire support to the coalition — the indigenous Syrian forces there that are leading the fight to retake Raqqa. So the artillery support will enable them to get closer and defeat ISIS,” said Maj. Thomas Craig, a public affairs officer who called KPBS from the USS Makin Island in the Middle East.

Craig said the deployment is temporary.

Several hundred Special Operations troops have already been in Syria training local forces for months. The new mission comes as the Trump Administration is weighing a plan to defeat ISIS in Syria.

The 4,500 service members assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit left San Diego in October on a routine deployment. The force includes ground combat troops, helicopter squadrons and assault aircraft teams.

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