The secretive U.S. Delta Force combined with Kurdish Peshmerga to raid an ISIS-controlled prison where 70 hostages were being held last Thursday. The hostages were freed, but U.S. Army Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler lost his life in the operation, reports the CBC.
Helmet-cam video of parts of the operation was released on Sunday. Gunfire and the shouts of soldiers and freed prisoners speaking Arabic can be heard. The ISIS raid was reported to have taken place in Huwija, which is 15 kilometres west of Kirkuk in Iraq.
Rescued ISIS prisoners can be seen being checked for weapons by soldiers and then being led away. Black ISIS flags can be seen in the background of portions of the video.
Joshua Wheeler is reported to be the first U.S. service-person to give his life since the inception of Operation Inherent Resolve, which was launched in August 2014. It also stood as the first time U.S. forces have been reported to have been involved in direct combat with ISIS or others since the beginning of the operation.
The plan had been reportedly for the U.S. Delta Force troops to observe while Kurdish military members actually fought ISIS. The battle plan apparently didn’t go as hoped. The U.S. forces were said to have been “drawn in” to the fighting.
After the raid was completed, the U.S. Department of Defense released a video purporting to show the destruction of the raided Huwija prison. ISIS has also been reported to have released video showing the bodies of militants and abandoned humanitarian supplies in Huwija.
Many of the men in the video being freed by the Kurdish fighters and U.S. Delta Force personnel are obviously scared, holding their hands tightly to their heads, and readily following instructions they are given. Most of the men are wearing traditional Muslim clothing, and many appear to be barefooted. The men reportedly faced “imminent mass execution” at the hands of ISIS, prompting the U.S. led intervention.
Newsweek has reported that the Pentagon gained “important information” during the raid.
Twenty ISIS fighters were reported to have been killed in fighting during the raid. Five ISIS militants were captured.
General Lloyd Austin with the U.S. Central Command was quoted with regard to the death of U.S. Army Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler by Newsweek:
“We commend and congratulate the brave individuals who participated in this successful operation that saved many lives, and we deeply mourn the loss of one of our own who died while supporting his Iraqi comrades engaged in a tough fight. Our gratitude and heartfelt condolences go out to this young man’s family, his teammates and friends.”
The Delta Force is a highly secretive section of the United States Special Operations Command. Delta Force personnel were said to be first brought together in the 1970s as a response to terrorist incidents; the Special Forces were said to have been started in 1952 by Colonel Aaron Bank. According to the Spec Ops Channel, Special Forces units are specially trained to face “insurgencies” and “unconventional threats” facing the United States in 2015.
Special Forces teams, called Operation Detachment A Teams, are reported to contain 12 members, each with different responsibilities. Members are said to be capable of working independently, and in a “decentralized” way. Delta Force is the First Special Forces Operational Detachment.
Different Special Forces ODAs also serve specialized functions, including mountain combat, combat diving, and military free fall.
Special Forces teams are said to have several mission profiles: direct action, special reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, counter terrorism, counter proliferation, and information operations. Special Forces teams are also known as Green Berets.
[Feature Screenshot Courtesy GlobalLeaks News/YouTube]