2,500 Marines from NC base headed to the Middle East amid rising tensions

North Carolina news

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – The United States will send roughly 2,500 Marines into the Mediterranean Sea as tensions between the U.S. and Iran rise, a defense official confirmed to the Marine Corps Times.

Military officials say the U.S. ended an exercise with the Moroccan military to make this happen.

Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit — made up of soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, Combat Logistics Battalion 26 and the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365, all based in North Carolina ― will be attached to the U.S. 6th Fleet while it is in the Mediterranean, the official said.

These Marines will join the roughly 3,500 soldiers recently deployed out of Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne that were sent as a security measure following the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

Soleimani was killed by a U.S. drone attack, according to the Department of Defense. Soleimani was the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.

The move comes as many politicians in Washington are questioning the move by the Trump administration, while others have applauded the operation, saying in part that Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” according to a Pentagon statement.

In the days since Iraqi protesters attacked the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and Soleimani was killed, the American military has built up its presence in the Middle East.

In addition, reports say other U.S. assets in the eastern Mediterranean Sea are well within range of Iranian missiles.

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