A news release from the anti-ISIS Operation Inherent Resolve coalition said the U.S. troops were accompanying Iraq security forces “during a mission to eliminate an ISIS terrorist stronghold in a mountainous area of north-central Iraq,” reported Military.com. The military didn’t provide any more information about the incident.
The names of two service members who were killed are being withheld until their families are notified.
Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a spokesman for the American-led coalition, said that troops had to deploy more forces to recover the dead in a mission that lasted about six hours, The New York Times reported.
“The forces trekked through mountainous terrain and eliminated four hostile ISIS fighters who were barricaded in the caves,” he said.
There are roughly 5,200 U.S. troops deployed to Iraq to fight the remnants of ISIS, which controlled large swaths of Syria and Iraq until several years ago, according to Military.com. The Pentagon has said it wants to reduce the number of forces in Iraq to about 2,500.
In January, after a U.S. airstrike that killed high-ranking Iranian officer Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the U.S.-led mission in Iraq suspended its counter-ISIS mission for about two weeks.
The last American who was killed in Iraq was in August 2019, when Marine Gunnery Sgt. Scott A. Koppenhafer died on a joint Iraqi–U. S. mission in Nineveh Province.