The self-proclaimed Islamic State broke through a line of Kurdish forces in Iraq and killed a U.S. service member Tuesday who were there to advise them, a U.S. defense official told the Daily Beast.
U.S. advisers had arrived on Monday morning to assist the Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, in the northern city of Mosul, checking on “their morale and defenses,” the official said.
The U.S. forces were as many as 3 miles from the frontlines when the ISIS fighters attacked, the official said.
ISIS fighters “appeared to penetrate the forward line” and began attacking the peshmerga. A U.S. service member was shot at 9:30 a.m. local time; he died an hour later in a US medical facility in nearby Erbil, the official said.
No other U.S. service members were wounded or killed. It is unclear if the peshmerga suffered any casualties. This is not the first time ISIS has successfully broke the Kurdish line. Fighters successfully attacked the peshmerga as far back as late last year, the official said.
The U.S. deployed F-15s and drones to fight back the ISIS offensive, launching 23 strikes, the Pentagon said.
The name and rank of the U.S. service member haven’t been released. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the service member’s death while in Stuttgart, Germany, for a change of command ceremony at U.S. European Command headquarters.
The service member is the third killed in Iraq since the US campaign against ISIS began and the second to die while trying to build up the local forces. Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin died in March helping the Iraqi forces move toward Mosul from the south.