- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2016

An American military adviser working with Kurdish forces outside the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul in Iraq was killed Tuesday, according to the Pentagon.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter confirmed the U.S. casualty during a visit to U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. It is the second U.S. service member to be killed by the Islamic State, or ISIS or ISIL, fighters in Iraq in as many months.

Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit was killed when his unit, based at the Karasoar Counterfire Complex outside Mosul, was attacked in late March.

The Pentagon and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) have yet to release the name and unit of the American service member who was killed. However, unnamed U.S. defense officials reportedly confirmed on Monday that the slain service member was a Navy SEAL.

The majority of American combat advisers stationed alongside Iraqi and Kurdish troops in and around Mosul are members of U.S. special operations forces, recent reports state.

The service member was “advising and assisting Peshmerga forces” just three miles behind the Kurdish front lines outside Mosul when ISIS gunmen attacked the Kurdish position, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.

“It is a combat death,” Mr. Carter told reporters in Stuttgart, shortly before convening a meeting of European defense chiefs to discuss the U.S.-led mission against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Senate lawmakers last week chastised Mr. Carter and the Obama White House for their refusal to acknowledge that the U.S. was in a full-fledged war in Iraq and Syria.

“Whenever [the White House] talks about our troops in the Middle East, they go to great lengths [to say] they will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil,” Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan said during a pointed exchange with Mr. Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford during an April 28 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the administration’s anti-ISIS strategy.

Earlier this month, President Obama ordered 200 U.S. troops backed by additional American air power and a shipment of heavy weapons would be heading to Iraq to support the upcoming Mosul offensive.

Iraqi forces backed by American firepower successfully cut off the terror group’s main supply route to the north of Mosul and now were moving into position to begin isolating ISIS fighters in the city.

Those forces are expected to be in position before the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts on June 6, according to the Pentagon. The operation will be a massive undertaking, requiring between seven to 10 Iraqi Army brigades or 25,000 troops, according to U.S. military officials.



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