American soldier killed in Iraq while rescuing more than 70 ISIS hostages

A U.S. Army Special Operations soldier was killed during a rescue mission to free as many as 70 ISIS hostages being held in Iraq, Fox News is reporting.

The operation — which involved U.S. special operations troops along with Kurdish and Iraq forces — took place in northern Iraq’s Kirkuk province in the town of Hawija, according to CNN. At around 3 a.m., the area was bombed by coalition air power in support of two helicopters used to land in the vicinity of the makeshift prison, The Guardian reported.

The Pentagon released this statement regarding the operation:

The U.S. provided helicopter lift and accompanied Iraqi Peshmerga forces to the compound. Approximately 70 hostages were rescued including more than 20 members of the Iraqi Security Forces. Five ISIL terrorists were detained by the Iraqis and a number of ISIL terrorists were killed as well. In addition, the U.S. recovered important intelligence about ISIL.

One U.S. service member was wounded during the rescue mission acting in support of Iraqi Peshmerga forces after they came under fire by ISIL. He subsequently died after receiving medical care. In addition, four Peshmerga soldiers were wounded.

Rakan Saeed, the deputy governor of Kirkuk, told The Washington Post that US and Peshmerga forces freed 70 prisoners, extracted them on helicopters, but could not offer any more details.

“We deeply mourn the loss of one of our own who died while supporting his Iraqi comrades engaged in a tough fight,” Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Central Command, told the BBC.

The soldier’s death marks the first time a U.S. military member has been killed in combat fighting against ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh), which the Pentagon refers to as Operation Inherent Resolve.

Officials have not yet released the identity of the soldier killed in the raid, as it is standard to notify family members before any public notification. The Pentagon has planned a briefing on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

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