New video shows a small group of Camp Pendleton-based U.S. Marines along with Marines from 29 Palms in eastern Syria. The video comes as tensions have increased over bombing by Russia and the recent missile attack by Iran.
The video shows Marines from the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Crisis Response-Central Command conducting a live-fire demonstration in eastern Syria.
A Marine spokesperson tells NBC 7 SPMAGTF-CRCC consists of a small group of Marines from Camp Pendleton and Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment from 29 Palms.
The live-fire demonstration came after Russian and Syrian forces protecting the Assad regime planned to carry out counterterrorism operations inside the de-confliction zone.
NBC 7 showed the video to decorated Combat Veteran Povas Miknaitis who said, “Just from that video, in particular, it seems like we have like we’ve got troops on the ground a little bit more than people necessarily think.”
Citing security reasons the local military would not give the exact numbers of troops. Adding to the complexity in Syria - there remains a mix of fighters including Iran. Miknaitis says rules of engagement are in place, "So even though the situation is very dynamic I'm sure it's very clear in those Marine's mindset as to who they're going to be firing upon and who they're fighting in that region.”
And while the U.S. military may have clarity this week Iran's ballistic missile attack that killed 24 people in eastern Syria in retaliation for the recent attack on an Iranian military parade adds to the complexity.
In a briefing, the U.S Military says the missiles hit about three miles from where US troops were positioned and that troops were not in any danger.
Miknaitis said in his experience in the middle east, "You'd have airstrikes much closer than three miles," that three miles would be a safe distance.
According to a Marine Corps spokesperson before the end of the year Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit will deploy to the Middle East and replace the group.
Editor's Note: 15th MEU clarified some Marines are moving into Syria while others are deploying to other parts of the Middle East.