Servicemember dies in noncombat incident in southwest Asia

By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 8, 2018

A servicemember died Monday in a noncombat incident in southwest Asia, according to the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State.

Neither the servicemember nor the specific location of the death were identified.

“The servicemember's name and the circumstances surrounding the death will be released at the discretion of the pertinent national authorities,” stated an emailed release from the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

The Pentagon typically withholds identification of U.S. casualties pending notification of family. It withheld the nationality of a casualty from the United Kingdom in an initial notice a year ago, but more recently has withheld such information in its first announcements of at least three U.S. casualties since November.

The lack of initial detail could be an attempt to prevent families from speculating or worrying about the identity of the dead servicemember. The top U.S. general in Afghanistan briefly instituted a policy of delaying casualty notices last summer, citing similar reasons, though officials there have not followed the practice in recent months.

The death marks the first casualty of 2018 for Operation Inherent Resolve, the alliance of 70-nations and four organizations battling ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS has lost almost all of the territory it once held in the region, but the U.S.-led coalition continues to back local forces working to clear the last remnants of the terrorist group, which U.S. officials have said consists of small cells of fighters totaling roughly 1,000.

The incident is under investigation, the coalition said.

Twitter: @chadgarland

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