American and Kurdish commandos raided an Islamic State prison in Iraq on Thursday, freeing about 70 captives believed to be facing “mass execution” and leaving one U.S. soldier dead, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.
It was the first time a member of the U.S. military had been killed in a combat situation in Iraq since President Obama pulled out all U.S. troops in 2011.
In a pre-dawn operation, soldiers from the Army’s Delta Force, supporting a team of elite Kurdish soldiers, descended on a militant compound in the town of Hawijah, where officials believed that dozens of Kurdish fighters known as peshmerga were being held captive.
Militants from the Islamic State, the extremist group that controls a vast area across Iraq and Syria, were planning an “imminent mass execution” of prisoners, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook told reporters later in the day.
While peshmerga captives were not present at the site, the U.S. and Kurdish forces freed dozens of others, including more than 20 members of the Iraqi security forces, Cook said. Five Islamic State militants were captured, officials said, and at least 10 were killed. In a statement, the Kurdish Security Council said more than 20 militants were killed.
One soldier from the Delta Force team, which numbered in the dozens, was shot when U.S. forces entered the militant compound. He later died. The Pentagon has not identified the slain soldier. (The Washington Post)