Soldier Shot in Nose First US Combat Casualty in Fight Against ISIS

The first U.S. soldier to be wounded by enemy fire in the fight against ISIS in Iraq suffered a minor face cut and quickly returned to duty after treatment, the Pentagon said Friday.

The soldier was involved in the first reported incident of U.S. ground troops returning fire against militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) since U.S. troops returned to Iraq to train Iraqi troops to fight ISIS, said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

It was not immediately known whether the soldier on guard duty at the training facility in Bismayah, about 12 miles southeast of Baghdad, was hit directly by small arms fire or a ricochet in the Wednesday incident, Warren said.

He said the soldier, whose unit was not disclosed, was one of two in a guard tower scoping out suspected activity past their lines at about 3 a.m. local time when a shot rang out and struck the soldier's nose. The two soldiers in the guard tower returned fire, but it was not known whether the attacker was hit.

The incident was a first for U.S. troops but not for Canadian special operations forces in northern Iraq who have gotten in firefights with ISIS militants at least three times this year.

Last week, Canadian Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron, assigned to the Canadian Special Operations Regiment, was killed and three other Canadian troops were wounded in a friendly fire incident in northern Iraq when they were mistaken for ISIS fighters by Kurdish peshmerga forces.

Last year, two Marines supporting Operation Inherent Resolve died in non-combat incidents. Corp. Jordan L. Spears, 21 was lost at sea on Oct. 1 and presumed dead in an accident involving an MV-22 Osprey flying off the amphibious assault ship Makin Island.

On Oct. 11, Lance Cpl. Sean P. Neal, 19, of Riverside, Calif., died in a "non-combat related incident" in Baghdad, the Pentagon said.

In addition to the incident in Bismayah, ISIS fighters kept up sporadic fire directed at the sprawling al-Asad airbase in western Anbar province, where about 300 Marines were training Iraqi forces.

"We continue to see ineffective, indirect fire" mostly from mortars aimed at al-Asad, Warren said.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at richard.sisk@military.com

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