BAGHDAD: The Islamic State group killed a US marine in a rocket attack in northern Iraq Saturday, the Pentagon said, only the second American combat death in the fight against the jihadists.
“Earlier today a US Marine providing force protection fire support at a recently established coalition fire base near Makhmur in northern Iraq was killed after coming under ISIL (IS) rocket fire,” a statement said.
Makhmur is a district around 70 kilometers (45 miles) southeast of the main IS hub of Mosul and 280 kilometers (170 miles) north of Baghdad.
It lies within territory controlled by the autonomous northern region of Kurdistan, but Baghdad has recently been deploying federal forces there to prepare for an offensive against Mosul.
“Several other Marines were wounded and they are being treated for their varying injuries,” the Pentagon said.
The 60-nation coalition battling IS in Iraq and Syria had previously announced a death as a result of “enemy action” but not specified the casualty’s nationality.
The IS-affiliated Amaq news agency published a report claiming the attack was carried out by IS.
“An American soldier was killed today, Saturday, due to bombing carried out by fighters of the Islamic State on Makhmur district,” it said.
It said the marine was killed when two medium-range Grad rockets were fired on a village called Krasur.
The Pentagon said the death was the second since the start in the summer of 2014 of Operation Inherent Resolve against IS and its self-proclaimed “caliphate.”
The coalition’s main role in the war against IS has been to provide air support, with close to 10,000 strikes destroying or damaging more than 16,000 targets since the summer of 2014.
But the United States and some of its leading partners in the coalition such as France, Britain, Australia and Italy also have significant contingents deployed on the ground Iraq.
Their official role is to train and advise local Iraqi forces.
A member of the Special Operations forces was killed in October last year during a joint raid with Kurdish forces against IS in the Iraqi city of Hawijah, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Makhmur.
A Canadian sergeant serving in the coalition in northern Iraq was accidentally shot dead by a Kurdish sniper who had mistaken him for an enemy target in March 2015.