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US servicemember killed by IED in Iraq

A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin conducts a fire mission at Qayyarah West, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi security forces' push toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016.

CHRISTOPHER BRECHT/U.S. ARMY

By TRAVIS J. TRITTEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 20, 2016

WASHINGTON — A U.S. servicemember died Thursday after being wounded by an improvised explosive device in northern Iraq, according to a statement by the military’s Combined Joint Task Force Inherent Resolve.

The servicemember was operating with Iraqi counterterrorism forces northeast of Mosul when the vehicle he was in hit an IED, a senior defense official told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Ash Carter. The vehicle may have rolled over from the blast, the official said.

The servicemember was medevaced by helicopter to Irbil but died there as a result of his injuries, the official said. The official declined to provide additional details pending notification of next of kin.

As many as 200 special operators have been embedded with Iraqi and Kurdish units moving to the front lines of the battle to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group, the Pentagon has said.

A total of about 4,800 troops are in Iraq assisting in the mission to liberate Mosul and its roughly 1 million inhabitants. The death announcement comes a day after two Americans – one a U.S. servicemember – were killed in Afghanistan in an apparent insider attack.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon said the embedded U.S. forces in northern Iraq were advancing to the last secure areas on the outskirts of Mosul as Iraqi and Kurdish forces wage a long-awaited offensive that could continue for weeks or months.

Iraq has about 18,000 troops moving on the city and the Kurdish peshmerga forces number about 10,000, according to Pentagon estimates.

Many U.S. troops were providing air support including nighttime raids by Apache helicopters, artillery bombardment, intelligence and forward air controllers who relay target information from Iraqi forces, according to the joint task force.

A Pentagon spokesman said troops were all operating behind the front lines of the conflict, which is the biggest offensive against the Islamic State group since it was defeated and pushed from Ramadi in western Iraq in December. The extremist group seized Mosul, which was Iraq’s second largest city, after a lightning assault from Syria in 2014.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon was looking into what could have been the first insider attack this year in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, an assailant reportedly dressed in an Afghan National Army uniform killed an unidentified U.S. servicemember and an American civilian who were working on a NATO mission to train local forces at Camp Morehead in Kabul. Another servicemember and two civilians were also injured.

The assailant was killed during the attack.

Stars and Stripes reporter Tara Copp contributed to this story.

tritten.travis@stripes.com
Twitter: @Travis_Tritten

 

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