U.S. military officials have identified the American serviceman killed in a firefight with Islamic State forces as a Marine from Riverside County.
Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, 27, of Temecula, died coming under Islamic State rocket fire in northern Iraq. His unit, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was at a recently established coalition "fire base" near Makhmur, the Pentagon said. Several other Marines were wounded and they are being treated for their injuries.
The U.S. military had not disclosed the presence of American troops in the region, raising fresh questions about U.S. participation in the fight against Islamic State to aid partners in its ground offensive against the militants. The U.S. has maintained an advisory and backup role, delivering airstrikes, training and financial support to proxy ground forces.
On Sunday, the Pentagon issued a statement announcing it assigned a detachment of U.S. Marines to the support of Iraqi Security Forces and coalition ground operations. The statement did not say how many Marines were involved, nor did it disclose details of their mission.
There are currently about 4,000 U.S. troops deployed to Iraq to confront Islamic State.
Cardin was the second American serviceman to die in combat in Iraq since the U.S. withdrew from the country in 2011. Army Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler died in a raid against Islamic State militants in northern Iraq in October.