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October 22, 2015

US Special Forces and Kurdish Commandos Free 70+ ISIS Prisoners Believed to Be Facing Imminent Execution; At Least One US Casualty Reported

At least one of our men died, but this is the only good military news I've read in a long time.

WASHINGTON – A U.S. service member died after a commando raid Thursday freed about 70 hostages who were believed to face imminent execution by Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq, according to the Pentagon. It was the first American combat death in Iraq in four years.

Kurdish commandos and U.S. special operations forces conducted the raid, which came at the request of the Kurdish regional government, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.


The 70 hostages, including 20 members of the Iraqi security forces, were released. Five fighters from the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, were captured, Cook said. U.S. forces also recovered valuable intelligence from the ISIL camp near the northern Iraqi town of Hawija, he said.

They won't get into specifics, but they say the plan was for 30 American special forces to "advise" around 30 Kurdish commandos. You'll see what "advise" means in reality in the next paragraph.

ISIL fighters held the hostages in a walled compound, the official said. The helicopters flew in from the south and west of the complex, and troops encountered heavy gunfire. The Kurds were pinned down before American troops took the lead and killed 15 ISIL fighters, the official said. U.S. troops wounded several more fighters as they freed the hostages.

ISIS had already dug the mass grave in preparation for the execution.

Ah, CNN says it was an "advise-and-assist mission."

"There was not a lot of time," one U.S. official told CNN on condition of anonymity Thursday. "The threat of execution was imminent."

The firefight represents the first time U.S. forces stepped into combat against ISIS in Iraq, the U.S. official said.

The American troops, who were on an advise-and-assist mission, stepped in after Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers came under fire, the official said.

One U.S. service member was mortally wounded -- the first American combat death in Iraq since November 2011 -- during the rescue mission at a prison of the Islamist militant group ISIS near Hawija in the northern province of Kirkuk, the Pentagon said. Four Peshmerga soldiers were wounded.

There were no Kurds among the hostages, the Kurdistan regional government said in a statement. The U.S. had claimed earlier that about 70 Kurdish hostages were rescued.

So the Kurds, like us, were in there freeing people who aren't part of their tribe.

The location was northern Iraq.

The pre-dawn raid targeted a school near the northern town of Hawija that was believed to have been used as a base by senior military commanders from the group. There were unconfirmed reports that one of Isis's most senior leaders, Nema Arbid Nayef al-Jabouri, was one of the targets of the raid.

Jabouri, also known as Abu Fatima was not present when US, Kurdish and Iraqi troops descended on the small village of Fedeekha east of the town, Iraqi officials said.

The Guardian mentions a tactical detail: The US had bombed the roads into the area before the raid, so that the helicopter-borne US and Kurdish forces would be the only new entrants into the fight.

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posted by Ace at 01:14 PM

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