An American soldier was fatally wounded on Thursday as American and Kurdish commandos raided an Islamic State prison in northern Iraq after learning that the prisoners faced imminent mass execution, the Pentagon said. The commando became the first American soldier killed in action in Iraq since the withdrawal in 2011.
The raid, near the town of Hawija, freed 70 prisoners, including Kurds and more than 20 Iraqi security
forces, the Pentagon said in a statement. Five Islamic State fighters were detained and several killed, and American officials said important intelligence about the terrorist group was recovered.
Some details of the classified operation remained unclear. But as described by Iraqi officials in the area, the mission appeared to be a significant joint strike against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, at a time when Iraqi and American officials are trying to mount a wider counteroffensive against the militants.
Fears that the prisoners were in danger may have been reinforced by the militants’ actions in recent days. An Iraqi in the Hawija area, who asked not to be named because he feared retribution from the Islamic State, said this week that the militants had recently executed 11 young men who were the sons or relatives of police officers or other Iraqi forces. He said their bodies had been hanged on a nearby bridge.
American and Iraqi officials said the raid involved American helicopters, Kurdish and American Special Operations forces, and airstrikes. The commando who was killed was not identified pending notification of his family. Four Kurdish soldiers were wounded as well, officials said.
American officials said American helicopters flew the commandos to the site. Kurdish special forces were said to have been in the lead, but American commandos were also on the ground. American jets carried out airstrikes to cut the roads leading to the site.
“They cut off roads and raided the place successfully,” one of the Iraqi officials who confirmed the raid, Najmaldin Karim, the governor of the surrounding Kirkuk Province, said in a telephone interview. “They were able to take people with them.”
The slain soldier was the first American killed since military operations by the United States-led coalition against the Islamic State began in September 2014, but soldiers from other coalition nations have also been killed.
May God grant rest to the American hero slain and comfort to his loved ones.
Crossposted at Brutally Honest.