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Drone Strike Avenges First Marine Killed In Iraq War Nearly 13 Years Later

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Jonah Bennett Contributor

The U.S. has finally avenged the death of the first Marine killed in the Iraq war by sending in a drone strike to take out one of the leaders of the attack, Muhsin al-Fadhli.

Muhsin coordinated the October 2002 attack on a U.S. military training exercise in Kuwait that led to the death of Lance Cpl. Antonio Sledd, a 20-year-old Marine from Camp Pendleton, and the first Marine casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Pentagon officials stated Tuesday that Muhsin, long-known as a senior al-Qaida leader, was killed July 8 by a drone while he was in a vehicle near Sarmada, Syria. Muhsin, 34, was allegedly close enough to Osama bin Laden that he was given advanced notice of the 9/11 attacks in the United States. (RELATED: Pentagon: Airstrike Killed Infamous Syrian Al-Qaida Leader)

In the statement, Department of Defense press operations chief Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said that Muhsin was “involved in terrorist attacks that took place in October 2002.”

According to the Pentagon, Muhsin belonged to an organization called the Khorasan Group, which is a composed of a small subset of top al-Qaida operatives. It’s unclear whether the group refers to itself as Khorasan, or whether the appellation is only used by the U.S. government.

Approximately 150 Marines serving with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, including Sledd, were busy conducting an exercise on Faylaka Island off Kuwait when men armed with AK-47s burst into the training area and fired shots from a white truck.

Sledd was hit in the chin and stomach. A rescue chopper lifted him to a military hospital in Kuwait, but he didn’t make it through surgery, effectively counting as the first American casualty in the Iraq war. The Marines fired back and killed two gunmen from the insurgent group.

A day before the attacks, the two gunmen were spotted near the area, though one Marine figured that “they were probably just curious about Marines.”

“They should have been challenged and shot before they got close enough to shoot Tony…he was a good boy. He didn’t have to die so young.” Tom Sledd, Antonio’s father, told the Orlando Sentinel.

“Security perimeters were not set up, and that is why he lost his life,” Sledd’s mother Norma added. “They murdered my son.”

With Muhsin dead, the U.S. government has avenged Sledd—almost 13 years later.

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