1st US Service Member Killed Fighting ISIS in Syria

Rubble covers a deserted street during a government-escorted visit to Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, Syria, Thursday, April 9, 2015. AP photo
Rubble covers a deserted street during a government-escorted visit to Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, Syria, Thursday, April 9, 2015. AP photo

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct earlier version that included an incorrect reference to a casualty in Iraq and incorrectly attributed information to Fox News. We regret the errors.

The first U.S. service member was killed on Thursday in fighting against the Islamic State in Syria, officials said.

The troop died from injuries sustained in a roadside blast near Ayn Issa in the northern part of the country, according to a statement from Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve.

The name of the individual wasn't immediately released, pending notification of next of kin.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter offered his condolences after the tragedy.

"I am deeply saddened by the news on this Thanksgiving Day that one of our brave service members has been killed in Syria while protecting us from the evil of ISIL," he said in a statement, using another term for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

"It is a painful reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face around the world to keep us safe," he added. "Please keep this servicemember's family, friends and teammates in your thoughts and prayers, and this Thanksgiving I hope you will join me in expressing thanks to all of our dedicated troops who selflessly protect us everyday."

Hundreds of U.S. troops, primarily special operations forces, have deployed to Syria to combat ISIS. The troops are helping local forces retake the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.

Nearly a half-million people have died during the five-year-old civil war in Syria, according to advocacy groups. Heavy fighting has recently occurred in the northwestern city of Aleppo, where Syrian government forces backed by Russia have launched airstrikes against rebels who oppose the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

While U.S. supports forces opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Russia provides military and financial backing to government troops.

Another 5,000 American service members are serving in Iraq to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces combat militants affiliated with the extremist group. Many service members are advising Iraqis and Kurds in an operation to retake the city of Mosul.

A total of 17 coalition members, all American, have been killed in Iraq in 2016, according to the website icasualties.org.

-- Brendan McGarry can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

Show Full Article