For the first time since 2011, an American service member has died a combat-related death in Iraq. The fallen soldier was fatally shot during a U.S. Special Forces raid to rescue 70 hostages from an ISIS-held prison.
The raid occurred sometime overnight local time when dozens of troops from the U.S. Army’s elite Delta Force left their base in Irbil, Iraq and flew in five helicopters roughly 87 miles to the town of Hawijah. According to a statement by the Kurdish government, the raid happened at 4 a.m.
General Lloyd Austin III, the head of of U.S. Central Command, reacted to the news with mixed emotions. Joyful for the returned hostages, yet despairing for our killed serviceman.
"We commend and congratulate the brave individuals who participated in this successful operation that saved many lives, and we deeply mourn the loss of one of our own who died while supporting his Iraqi comrades engaged in a tough fight. Our gratitude and heartfelt condolences go out to this young man's family, his teammates and friends."
Obama announced the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by the end of 2011 and the administration ensured Americans that our soldiers would no longer enter into combat. However, Thursday's rescue mission certainly seems to be a violation of that mandate.
Some officials, like former Vice President Dick Cheney, have claimed Obama's decision to withdraw from Iraq led directly to the rise of ISIS in the region.
“There was no stay-behind agreement, no advisers left in Iraq, and the vacuum that was created is what led, ultimately, to the rise in ISIS,” Cheney claimed.
Whether or not the lack of U.S. military presence in Iraq ensured terrorist forces would sweep the country, that appears to be the situation today.
Is the Pentagon trying to cover up the president’s failed foreign policy?
Update: The killed soldier has been identified.
BREAKING: Coalition identifies US commando killed in raid in northern Iraq as Master Sergeant Joshua L. Wheeler.— The Associated Press (@AP) October 23, 2015