As coalition forces slowly make gains in liberating Mosul from ISIS control, another campaign to finally oust the terror group’s forces is taking place in Raqqa, Syria.
According to The Washington Post, a contingent of US Marines from the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine regiment recently established a combat outpost in Syria to assist local US-backed forces, who have begun their assault on the city.
By providing support through various means, Coalition troops have reportedly killed hundreds of enemy fighters and destroyed more than 200 fortifications. Coalition forces have also claimed that they have conducted more than 300 airstrikes around Raqqa in the past month alone.
One of the ways in which the Marines have pounded their enemies is with the fearsome M-777 Howitzer. Firing 155-millimetre shells, these cannons can have a range up to 25 miles with special GPS-guided munitions.
Here’s a look at the deadly weapon that the Marines are hitting ISIS with.
Raqqa has been a relative safe haven for ISIS militants since 2014, but it might be changing soon. Under the cover of darkness, Syrian Democratic Forces, with the assistance of US Marines, hit the Tabqah Dam on Tuesday. The dam, about 25 miles from Raqqa, has been used as ISIS' headquarters since 2013.
In years past, Coalition forces were reportedly unable to outright bomb the ISIS-controlled dam with airstrikes, due to the possibility of flooding. With the Coalition's conventional ground assault well underway, things are looking different now.
The M-777 Howitzer, just one of the tools in the Marine Corps' arsenal, was staged within striking distance of the self-proclaimed ISIS capital of Syria, in order to assist with this assault.
Source: The Washington Post
Once the dam is free of ISIS control, it will isolate Raqqa from three sides, giving Syrian troops the strategic advantage to further liberate areas of the city. According to The Post, an unknown number of Marines with 1st Battalion 4th Marine Regiment have set up their cannons for support.
Source: The Washington Post
With these guns, Marines can pound ISIS positions, vehicles, and even hardened bunkers with accurate and continuous fire -- a cheaper and a more controlled option compared to an airstrike.
In 2005, the Marine Corps began fielding the M-777, which was 9,000 pounds lighter than its predecessor: the M-198 Howitzer.
The M-777 can be dropped, loaded, and ready to fire in under three minutes with a crew of five Marines.
The M-777 has proven to be a dependable medium-force weapon for the Marine Corps and US Army, with over 40,000 rounds fired in all sorts of terrain and conditions.
The gun is capable of sustaining a rate of fire of two rounds per minute, however, it can also fire an intense barrage of up to 10 rounds in two minutes.
It can fire up to 18.6 miles out with normal munitions. And with Raytheon's Excalibur rounds, it's able to accurately hit targets up to 25 miles away.
Artillerymen can use high-explosive rounds to suppress the enemy, and smoke rounds to screen friendly movement ...
Source: Military Times
Artillerymen typically name their guns, though soldiers and Marines receive commands to fire by their gun number -- based on where they are on the firing line.
And when the mission is all over, Marines and soldiers can airlift the M-777 with the MV-22 Osprey, the CH-53E Super Stallion, and the CH-47 Chinook.
Source: US Marine Corps
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