An American service member was killed by enemy fire in northern Iraq Tuesday, with Defense Secretary Ash Carter saying that it took place near Irbil. The Pentagon says the service member was killed during a clash with ISIS.
Sent to Iraq on an "advise and assist" mission, the service member died after ISIS fighters broke through Kurdish defensive lines, a Defense official tells NPR's Tom Bowman. The official adds that U.S. air support carried out nearly two dozen strikes by F-15s and drones to counter the attack.
The service member's name and branch of service are not being released, pending family notification.
"The casualty occurred during an ISIL attack on a Peshmerga position approximately 3 to 5 kilometers behind the forward line of troops," Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook says in an official statement released this morning. He adds, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the servicemember's family."
Kurdish news site Rudaw reports, "the incident happened in the vicinity of Tel Skuf, about 28 kilometers north of Mosul," adding that the service member's body was recovered by a U.S. helicopter. A Rudaw correspondent says nearly 400 ISIS fighters are believed to have been involved in the fight.
NPR's National security editor Philip Ewing tells us:
"At least two other American troops have been killed in action as part of the ISIS war, including a Marine artilleryman whose base came under attack in March and a Delta Force soldier last October in a raid that freed some Iraqi hostages."
Speaking about the casualty, Secretary Ash Carter said in Stuttgart, Germany, that the combat death is "a very sad loss."
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