But now, for the first time, Marine Corps Forces Central Command has released footage of a Marine artillery strike destroying an ISIS artillery system near the militant group’s self-declared capital city.
The Corps’ artillery presence in Syria was first formed with several hundred troops from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, who detached from the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group with M777 155mm howitzers to support the fight, already underway.
Unlike the artillery element that detached from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit a year before to established a fixed fire base in northern Iraq, this team remained mobile. In April, Commandant Gen. Robert Neller revealed to Military.com that the detachment had moved as it continued to support the Raqqa siege.
“The fight evolves, so they’re moving to where they can best provide support based on the capability of the weapons system,” he said at the time. “The commanders there understand the capability, and they’ll reposition them as required in order to provide the fire support and other effects they need to do to make the campaign successful, ultimately.”
Earlier this month, the Corps released a montage video, shot using an aerial drone, showing Marines in Syria loading and firing howitzers from a variety of mobile and expeditionary positions covered with sand-colored netting. The video also showed the movement of military trucks and combat vehicles as Marines positioned themselves in best proximity to the fight. That video, shot in color, did not depict any elimination of actual targets, however.
The new video, released on the website of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, features 23 seconds of black-and-white footage shot May 14. According to a video description, the target was destroyed in support of Syrian Democratic Forces on the ground.
“The Marines have been conducting 24-hour all-weather fire support for the Coalition’s local partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces, as part of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve,” reads a description of B-roll footage showing Marines load and fire their M777A2 howitzers.
While news broke Monday that ISIS had been successfully defeated in its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul after a months-long fight, the battle continues in Raqqa. According to recent on-the-ground media reports, more than 2,000 militants are estimated to remain in hiding in Raqqa’s center as house-to-house fighting rages in parts of the city. It’s likely U.S. forces will intensify the focus on Raqqa in the wake of victory in Mosul.