An American serviceman killed in Iraq by fire from the Islamic State group has been identified as a Navy SEAL.
A U.S. official says the SEAL was killed during a 'coordinated and complex' attack on Iraqi Kurdish positions outside the IS-held city of Mosul on Tuesday morning.
The Department of Defense confirmed that the SEAL is Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Charles Keating IV, 31, of San Diego, California. He is the grandson of the late Charles Keating, who was involved in a well-documented savings and loan scandal in the 1980s.
Robert Whitley, a family friend posted a note on Facebook: "Our wine competition family weeps today for Charlie Keating and Brooke Clark. Brooke and her mother Sheila have been the judges' concierges at all of our wine competitions for the past decade. Brooke worked for several years as assistant to my top assistant, Felicia. Charlie and Brooke were engaged to be married in November. Brooke was supposed to buy her wedding dress this week. Charlie, a Navy Seal on a dangerous mission in Iraq, was shot and killed last night. I can barely speak. I am devastated that my good friends have suffered this tragedy. Brooke, the Clark and Keating families, and our extended wine competition family have lost a beautiful person and a brave soldier. We salute your service, Charlie. RIP."
It was the third death of a U.S. service member in Iraq since the U.S.-led coalition launched its campaign against IS militants in the summer of 2014. Defense Secretary Ash Carter called it a "combat death."
Carter first announced the death, speaking to reporters in Stuttgart, Germany, where he has been consulting with European allies this week on fighting the Islamic State group. Carter described it as a "combat death" but provided no immediate details.
A defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the service member was killed in an attack early on Tuesday morning. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said he was killed near Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, which has been in the hands of IS militants since they overran large swaths of northern and western Iraq in the summer of 2014.
The U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, said only that a coalition service member was killed "in northern Iraq as a result of enemy fire." A U.S. military official in Iraq said the American died in the line of duty as an adviser to the Kurdish peshmerga troops. The identity of the service member was not immediately known in line with military procedure to first notify next of kin.
The military official said the soldier was killed by "direct fire" after Islamic State forces penetrated the peshmerga forces' forward line. The American was three to two to three miles behind that front line before the attack was launched, the official added, also speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
Maj. Gen. Jaber Yawer, the Kurdish peshmerga spokesman, told The Associated Press that the American was killed by IS sniper fire near the town of Teleskof during an IS attack Tuesday that also involved a number of car bombs.
The U.S. and defense officials did not say specifically say that it was sniper fire that killed the U.S. serviceman.
Vice President Joe Biden visited Baghdad last week to exhort leaders of the government in Iraq to resolve internal political strife and concentrate on the effort to defeat the Islamic State group.
Carter also visited Baghdad recently. The Obama administration has been pressing the effort against IS, which has been slowed down in its quest to overrun Iraq.
The last killing of a U.S. service member in Iraq was in March, when a U.S. Marine stationed at Makhmour base outside the IS-held city of Mosul was killed by an IS rocket attack.
The first U.S. service member killed in Iraq was a special operations solider killed in a firefight in October 2015 during a raid on an Islamic State group prison.
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