Two elite operators of a Marine Special Operations team were killed in Iraq on Sunday during an operation conducted against ISIS militants. The Marine Riders were targeting a well-defended mountain cave complex alongside Iraqi counterterrorism forces in mountains near Makhmur, officials said.
The mountain cave complex was used by Islamic State militants as a hideout. This was the first U.S. combat deaths in the country since last summer, the U.S. and Iraqi military officials said Monday. Additionally, Iraqi officials claim that at least 25 Islamic State fighters were killed and that nine tunnels and a training camp were destroyed.
In a statement, Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a spokesman for the American-led mission in Iraq and Syria, said U.S. troops had to deploy additional forces to recover the dead in an effort that took roughly six hours.
“The forces trekked through mountainous terrain and eliminated four hostile ISIS fighters who were barricaded in the caves,” Colonel Caggins said.
The service members’ identities were being withheld as family members were notified. More details to follow.