ISIS militants killed a U.S. serviceman in Iraq today, during an assault on Kurdish Peshmerga defenses by the Islamic State. The defense department confirmed that the U.S. serviceman killed in Iraq was a Navy Seal deployed to assist the Kurdish Peshmerga in their fight against ISIS.
“It is a combat death, of course, and a very sad loss,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter today, confirming that the serviceman killed by ISIS was a Navy Seal.
The Navy Seal killed in Iraq today is the third U.S. serviceman to be killed in direct combat since 2014, when the United States-led coalition became involved in the fight against ISIS in Iraq. Reuters reported the U.S. serviceman’s death early Tuesday morning, after the Defense Department confirmed reports that an American armed forces member was killed in “direct combat” with Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) forces in Iraq.
“This sad news is a reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face every day in the ongoing fight to destroy ISIL and end the threat the group poses to the United States and the rest of the world,” said Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook earlier today, announcing the death of a U.S. serviceman who was later confirmed to be an elite Navy Seal.
U.S. officials say American serviceman killed in Iraq by Islamic State group was a Navy SEAL. https://t.co/D5bNQ6Xywf— The Associated Press (@AP) May 3, 2016
The U.S.-led mission in Iraq was described by Defense Department sources as an attempt to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State, also known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq & Syria) or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The militant group has been on the defensive in recent months after the U.S.-led coalition had successfully degraded the Islamic State’s military capabilities by targeting oil fields and other sources of revenue for the ISIS militants, but today’s tragic death is a reminder that ISIS is still dangerous, and still a serious threat to the security of Iraq, Syria and other nations in the Middle East.
According to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, the U.S. serviceman, a Navy Seal, was killed in a firefight with ISIS militants around 3-5 kilometers behind the forward line of Kurdish Peshmerga forces, near the town of Tel Isqof. Tel Isqof is only 28 kilometers from Mosul, an Islamic State stronghold.
During the attack by ISIS militants, around 10 Kurdish Peshmerga troops were killed in the firefight, alongside a U.S. serviceman who was deployed to advise and assist the Peshmerga in their fight against the Islamic State. According to Reuters, at least 25 Islamic State vehicles were destroyed during the attack, and around 80 ISIS militants were killed during the firefight.
CBSNewYork: CBS News: U.S. Navy SEAL Killed Fighting ISIS In Iraq https://t.co/i4sOAn1Qcv— Vender Laster (@ManufacturingOD) May 3, 2016
Attacks against hardened defensive positions in Northern Iraq are rare, Reuters reports, due in part to the strength of the Peshmerga fortifications and the frequent air strikes from U.S.-led coalition forces. During the attack which saw the death of a U.S. serviceman – an as-yet-unidentified Navy Seal – the Kurdish Peshmerga were defending against another ISIS attack at a different position 40 kilometers to the west.
The attack on Tel Isqof saw Islamic State forces using suicide bombers and vehicles loaded up with explosives to break through Kurdish Peshmerga defenses. The ensuing firefight was bloody, brief and claimed the life of a U.S. serviceman.
According to the Washington Post, around 200 U.S. marines were deployed to Iraq in a reported advisory capacity as part of the mission to “degrade and destroy” ISIS/ISIL and their military presence in Iraq. The U.S. service members are reportedly stationed near the front line, after being deployed earlier this year.
The last time a U.S. serviceman was killed by ISIS in Iraq, March 19, a rocket attack claimed the life of Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]