About a mile from the Iraqi-Syrian border is a US military fire base where approximately 150 Marines and soldiers are still hammering ISIS in Syria with artillery.
“To get to the firebase, you fly by helicopter over Mosul,” NPR’s Jane Arraf reported on Monday.
“And then just a little more than a mile from the Syrian border, there’s a collection of tents and armoured vehicles in the desert,” Arraf said, adding that the US troops have been at the remote, temporary base for about a month.
In early June, the US Army released a dozen photos showing the base and the troops firing M777 howitzers and M109 Paladins to support the Syrian Democratic Forces clearing ISIS from the Euphrates River Valley.
Then a few weeks later, the Army released photos of the troops playing an improvised game of baseball as dusk sets in and smoke clouds billow in the background.
Check them out below:
Here’s part of the base, which appears to be surrounded by a sand barrier for protection.
It’s about 100 degrees at the camp, and is crawling with scorpions and biting spiders, NPR reported.
And US troops are firing M777 howitzers.
Read more about the M777 here.
As well as M109 Paladins.
Here’s a wide shot of how the M777s are set up.
But US troops are not alone at the base as they’re operating alongside Iraqi forces.
“Iraqi commanders normally select the targets,” NPR’s Arraf said. “The strikes are mostly in remote areas. The U.S. military says it takes care to avoid civilian casualties.”
Here’s a shot of one of the Paladins at night.
And an M777 firing at night too.
The 155mm rounds “weigh about a hundred pounds each,” Sgt. Jason Powell told NPR. “And sometimes we get up to 12-round fire missions. So with your gear on and hauling these rounds, these guys are fricking animals.”
Here’s the first shot released a couple weeks ago of the troops playing baseball.
“I think Fourth will be good spent playing ball,” Private Clayton Mogensen told NPR. “We’ve got a few baseballs here, and we take the handle from a pickaxe and set bases up and just have a good time.”
And here comes the pitch.
U.S. Army Sgt. Juan Vallellanes-Ramos swings the axe handle.
And connects, appearing to crack the wooden handle.
But it’s unclear if he scored.
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