The first U.S. soldier killed in Iraq since 2011 died Thursday morning in a joint mission to free prisoners held by the Islamic State, CNN reports.
The soldier has not yet been identified, but anonymous officials said 70 Kurdish prisoners were freed in the raid which was carried out by U.S., Kurdish, and Iraqi forces. The prisoners had been kidnapped about a month ago.
The mission reportedly took place in Hawija in Iraq’s Kirkuk province. U.S. helicopters flew commandos to the site where Kurdish forces led the operation. Officials said U.S. airstrikes cut off roads leading to the strike.
“They cut off roads and raided the place successfully,” Najmaldin Karim, governor of the Kirkuk Province, told The New York Times. “They were able to take people with them.”
The prisoners were likely in serious danger as ISIS has developed a reputation for brutally raping, torturing and executing prisoners who refuse to swear allegiance to the Islamic State. They often video and publicize their violence and executions of hostages to draw attention and recruit outsiders to their effort.
The death comes as ISIS’ power and influence in the region has grown significantly in the last year and as U.S. opposition has increased. The U.S. has spent billions of dollars, but has thus far has little effect on ISIS’ influence in the region.
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