US Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook has told a press conference that an American soldier was killed in Iraq on Thursday morning during a special US military operation to rescue dozens of Kurdish hostages.
Cook said that the raid took place at the request of the Kurdistan Regional Government and was carried out with Kurdish Peshmerga commandos to free hostages being held by ISIS militants in a village near the northern Iraqi city of Hawija.
“He (the US soldier) subsequently died after receiving medical care. In addition, four Peshmerga soldiers were wounded. Approximately 70 hostages were rescued including more than 20 members of the Iraqi Security Forces,” Cook said in a statement.
Five ISIS militants were reportedly captured by the Iraqis and “a number” of ISIS militants were killed in the operation.
Cook also said that the US recovered important intelligence about ISIS.
The incident marks the first American soldier to be killed by the ISIS militant group in Iraq since the US withdrawal in 2011.
US military officials gave no further information on the details of the classified operation except that the raid was provided with air support from helicopters.
According to Iraqi officials from the region, the raid was a joint operation against ISIS as American and Iraqi officials work to mount a wider counteroffensive against the militants.
Kurdish Special Forces were leading the raid but US commandos were also on the ground, reports stated.
The US also conducted air strikes to cut the roads leading to the site.
The Governor of the Kirkuk Province, Najmaldin Karim, said “They cut off roads and raided the place successfully,” adding, “They were able to take people with them.”
The raid comes as Iraq and the US-led coalition, named the CJTF (Combined Joint Task Force), carry out Operation Inherent Resolve to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria in order to regain places overrun by the militants, including the cities of Ramadi, Biji and other locations in Iraq.
Hawija, which is under ISIS control, has become an important flashpoint in recent weeks.
ISIS has been the target of daily air strikes in Iraq and Syria by a US-led coalition for more than a year.
In May, American special operations forces killed a senior Tunisian ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf in a raid in Syria.