Elite US and Kurdish troops arrived just in time to stop the Islamic State (aka ISIS/ISIL) from executing around 70 people in one of their worst mass murders to date.
According to the Washington Post:
American and Kurdish commandos raided an Islamic State prison in Iraq on Thursday, freeing about 70 captives believed to be facing “mass execution” and leaving one U.S. soldier dead, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.
It was the first time a member of the U.S. military had been killed in a combat situation in Iraq since President Obama pulled out all U.S. troops in 2011.
In a pre-dawn operation, soldiers from the Army’s Delta Force, supporting a team of elite Kurdish soldiers, descended on a militant compound in the town of Hawijah, where officials believed that dozens of Kurdish fighters known as peshmerga were being held captive.
There are varying accounts on enemy casualties, but it looks like between 10-20 ISIS fighters were killed and another five were taken into custody for interrogation.
The US soldier who was killed has been identified as Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler, 39. According to the Army Times:
Wheeler, who was from Roland, Oklahoma, joined the Army as an infantryman. He served in the 75th Ranger Regiment, deploying three times to support combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, before being assigned to USASOC headquarters. He deployed 11 times after that to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to information released by USASOC.
Wheeler died from enemy gunfire near Hawijah, Iraq.
This event is one of the most publicized examples of US ground troops engaging ISIS.