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Old 10-25-2014, 07:53 PM
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California Marine is first soldier to die in Iraq on U.S. mission against Islamic State

California Marine is first soldier to die in Iraq on U.S. mission against Islamic State

The Pentagon on Friday reported the first death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq in its new mission to combat Islamic State militants who have seized large areas of Iraq and Syria.

Marine Lance Corporal Sean Neal, a 19-year-old old from California, died in Baghdad on Thursday in what a Pentagon statement described as a non-combat incident. Further details about how Neal died were not immediately available.

Earlier this month, a U.S. Marine was deemed lost at sea after he fell from an aircraft into the Arabian Gulf.

The Pentagon said Neal’s death was the first U.S. casualty in Iraq since the Obama administration announced its ‘Inherent Resolve’ mission, which now includes air strikes against the extremist group in both Iraq and Syria, and a growing number of U.S. military personnel on the ground in Iraq.

The Iraq casualty comes as the Obama administration seeks to ensure the United States is not drawn into more of the costly, messy ground wars that characterized the decade after the 9/11 attacks.

More than 4,000 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

President Barack Obama, who withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 , has vowed that U.S. forces will not return to combat there.

But his administration is slowly expanding its involvement in Iraq and neighboring Syria in an effort to defeat the militant group, which threatens not only the Iraqi government but has promised to strike the West. American soldiers have set up joint headquarters in Baghdad and Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, as they advise Iraqi forces and support air strikes on Islamic State targets.

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