An American service member was shot and killed Tuesday by “direct fire” from Islamic State militants who stormed through defenses set up by Kurdish Peshmerga troops in northern Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition and Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.
The unnamed service member was advising Peshmerga forces in the region but was less than 2 miles behind the front lines, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement. A defense official told Fox News the service member was killed by small arms fire, likely from an AK-47 rifle.
“It is a combat death, of course. And a very sad loss,” Carter told reporters in Stuttgart, Germany, where he was attending a ceremony installing a new commander of U.S. European Command. “It shows you the serious fight that we have to wage in Iraq.”
U.S. officials said the death occurred about 20 miles north of ISIS’ Iraqi hub of Mosul “in the neighborhood” of the city of Irbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan.