Newspaper article International New York Times

U.S. Soldier Killed in Iraq during Raid against ISIS ; Operation Frees Dozens Being Held by Militants and Facing Execution

Newspaper article International New York Times

U.S. Soldier Killed in Iraq during Raid against ISIS ; Operation Frees Dozens Being Held by Militants and Facing Execution

Article excerpt

The U.S. commando was killed on Thursday morning as American and Kurdish commandos raided an Islamic State outpost, officials said.

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 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 American and Iraqi officials, 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.

Initial reports noted that at least some of the hostages were Kurds, but Kurdish officials involved in the operation later reported that none were. Further details about the nationalities of the hostages were not immediately announced.

Providing new details about the operation, a senior Defense Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a classified operation, said five American helicopters had been involved, including Chinook and Black Hawk aircraft. The American forces involved were part of the United States Joint Special Operations Command.

The American and Kurdish commandos had expected to rescue about 20 prisoners only to find 70, underscoring the complications of gathering accurate intelligence in a militant-controlled area. …

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