Marine first US casualty in fight against ISIS

The Pentagon late Friday announced the first death of a U.S. soldier in the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 

Marine Lance Corporal Sean P. Neal died Thursday in Baghdad in what the Pentagon is calling a "non-combat related incident," which remains under investigation. 


The 19-year-old Riverside, Calif., native was in the Marine's 2nd Battalion, 7th Regiment in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

His battalion deployed to the Middle East last month as part of U.S. Central Command's Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force. 

Comprised of approximately 2,300 Marines and several aircraft, the force was deployed to support U.S. security operations in the Middle East and respond to any emergencies. 

The announcement of Neal's death is the first indication that the team is serving in Iraq, which has seen fighting in recent days around Baghdad's Green Zone. 

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Sept. 30 that planning for the task force's deployment started last year, adding it "is not in response to the ongoing operations in Iraq" but general crises in the Middle East and South and Central Asia.

There are seven U.S. teams serving in advisory roles in and around Baghdad with another five in Erbil, Kirby said this week.

Another U.S. soldier, Memphis native Marine Corporal Jordan L. Spears, 21, was deemed lost at sea in the Persian Gulf earlier this month after the power apparently failed for his Osprey aircraft shortly after takeoff from the USS Makin Island. 

Both Marines were part of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS campaign, recently dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve.

President Obama has repeatedly indicated that there would be no U.S. combat troops in Iraq or Syria to fight ISIS.

Approximately 150 of the task force's Marines are in Iraq providing extra security for U.S. personnel, U.S. Central Command said late Friday, according to The Los Angeles Times.