Pentagon denies first combat death against ISIS in Iraq the result of combat

An American special operator was killed during a hostage rescue mission in Iraq yesterday, but the Pentagon insists the US role was purely "support" for the operation.

Apparently, the president is paranoid about admitting any combat role for US troops in Iraq, given he declared combat operations over years ago.

Washington Examiner:

On Thursday, U.S. commandos participated in an operation in Hawija, Iraq, to save about 70 Iraqi hostages, 22 of whom were Iraqi Security Force fighters. In the joint raid with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, one U.S. service member died from a gunshot wound after being transported to Irbil for medical treatment.

This represents the first U.S. combat death in the fight against the Islamic State.

The administration has been clear that the U.S. mission in Iraq is purely to train and advise Iraqi forces. President Obama has said repeatedly that U.S. forces in Iraq are not in combat.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook stressed that U.S. troops were in Iraq in a "support" role during the hostage rescue. He denied that a U.S. service member being killed by an enemy gunshot represented any kind of mission creep or an increased role for Americans in battle beyond training and advising Iraqi forces.

"Our mission in Iraq is the train, advise and assist mission. This was a unique circumstance," Cook said. "This was a support mission in which they were providing support to the Kurdistan Regional Government. U.S. forces are not in an active combat mission in Iraq."

He added that missions like this would not begin to happen on a regular basis.

Cook said the hostages were in "imminent" danger and many feared that they would be killed within "hours."

Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the decision that the operation was "worthwhile" and in the national security interest of the U.S. because it helped the broader fight against the Islamic State, Cook said. He also said the intelligence gathered during the raid would be beneficial

Asked what made these Iraqi civilian hostages worth risking American lives for when the Islamic State has already brutally murdered thousands of people, Cook stressed that the U.S. was responding to a request from a close ally.

Ash didn't say but it appears the request for assistance came from the Kurds. This will no doubt worry Turkey who is currently engaged in a low level conflict with the Kurdish PKK.

But the fiction being maintained by the Pentagon that our troops were not in combat is absurd. By that thinking, the dead soldier will not be eligible for combat decorations nor will his wife get survivor benefits. Given that the Pentagon has denied these benefits before in the case of the Fort Hood survivors, I wouldn't put it past them.

Meanwhile, the president continues his sham war against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria with the growing likelihood that there will be more American casualties in the future.