US-Navy-SEAL-killed-by-Islamic-State-in-Iraq-combat. STUTTGART, Germany, A U.S. Navy SEAL was killed by enemy fire on Tuesday after the Islamic State breached a Kurdish Peshmerga position near Mosul amid increased American presence, U.S. defense officials said.
The militant assault occurred “on a Peshmerga position approximately 3 to 5 kilometers [1.8 to 3.1 miles] behind the forward line of troops,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.
The Navy SEAL’s identity will be revealed after next of kin have been notified.
After the IS assault, the United States responded by deploying F-15s and drones that dropped more than 20 bombs.
The service member’s death comes as the United States last week announced increased efforts to support Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga in their fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, Daesh and ISIS.
“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,” Cook added. “Our coalition will honor this sacrifice by dealing ISIL a lasting defeat.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter confirmed the death while visiting Stuttgart, Germany, for a meeting with NATO allies.
“It is a combat death, of course. And a very sad loss,” Carter said, adding the death occurred “in the neighborhood of Erbil.” The U.S.-led NATO coalition in Iraq said the service member was “killed in northern Iraq as a result of enemy fire.”
Iraqi security forces launched an offensive to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State in March, supported by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes. The effort began by isolating the city from surrounding areas and slowly chipping away at IS territory and supply routes. The Peshmerga later joined the offensive.
Mosul, which was captured by the Islamist militants in June 2014, is considered one of the most important battles in the fight against the Islamic State. President Barack Obama said he expects the city of Mosul to be retaken by the Iraqi government by the end of the year.
Iraq is facing instability from not only violent insurgency but from mass political discontent, as thousands of Iraqis have rallied against the Iraqi government — many of which are under the orders of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Protesters have gone as far as seizing and ransacking the Iraqi Parliament for a day. The protesters have been demanding long-awaited anti-corruption reforms and measures to improve the economy.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s tenure is also threatened. He campaigned on anti-corruption reforms that many Iraqis feel have not arrived quickly enough and others feel will never arrive.
Although Abadi has attempted to enact reforms, the Iraqi Parliament has often blocked his efforts through disruption and inefficiency. The protesters who stormed the Iraqi Parliament did so after a vote on Cabinet reforms was delayed because not enough parliamentarians showed up.
Some protesters have called for the removal of dozens of government officials, including Abadi.
Carter said the United States supports Abadi “strongly because of what he stands for.”
“Prime Minister Abadi stands for, and has been a partner in, all the things that are important to Iraq’s future, namely a country that holds together and doesn’t just spiral off into sectarianism,” Carter said. “We know what lies down that road, which is a lot of violence for the Iraqi people and more opportunity for extremists like ISIL, and he’s been standing for that, and that’s why we’ve been standing with in regard. He’s had considerable success on the battlefield.”