The American soldier, who was killed last week in Syria, was a member of the Army’s elite Delta Force, which was taking part in a mission to kill or capture an Islamic State leader, Pentagon officials said Monday.
An IED blast in Manbij, Syria, killed Master Sgt. Jonathan J. Dunbar March 30. British soldier Sgt. Matt Tonroe was also killed — five other troops were wounded in the explosion.
Dunbar, 36, was assigned to Delta, CNN reported, citing a U.S. official with knowledge of the matter. He was described publicly by the Army only as being “assigned to Headquarters, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.”
Military officials use that terminology to identify slain U.S. troops who were assigned to Delta, a secretive counter-terror force rarely acknowledged in public.
The Pentagon offered few details about the mission Dunbar’s unit was conducting at the time of his death, other than to say it was part of the U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS in Syria.
“Coalition forces, in an advise, assist and accompany capacity with our partners, were conducting a mission to kill or capture a known ISIS member when they were struck by an improvised explosive device,” U.S.-led anti-ISIS collation spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon said in a statement. “This operation was part of the Coalition’s mission to defeat ISIS, and we remain focused on our mission.”
The U.S. has about 2,000 troops deployed inside Syria, working mostly with Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) to destroy ISIS remnants east of the Euphrates River. Special operations troops have also been in the Manbij area, in northern Syria, looking for high-value ISIS fighters who may have fled to that part of the country.
Officially known as the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, Delta Force is an elite unit modeled after the famed British Special Air Service (BSAS) that specializes in hostage rescue, direct action, and reconnaissance against high-value targets. It is the U.S. military’s primary counter-terrorism force, along with the Navy’s Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as Seal Team Six.
Dunbar was the second American service member to be killed in Syria, USA TODAY reported. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton was killed by an improved explosive device November 2016.
According to military news website Task & Purpose, Dunbar’s service awards include three Bronze Stars, four Army Commendation Medals, six Army Achievement Medals, five Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, the Iraq Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 3, the Army Service Ribbon, two Overseas Service Ribbons, the NATO Medal, the Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Pathfinder Badge, the Military Freefall Jumpmaster Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.
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