ISIS used multiple vehicles, suicide car bombs and bulldozers to break through a checkpoint at the front line and drive 3 to 5 kilometers to the Peshmerga base where SEALs are temporarily visiting and were located as advisers, a U.S. defense official told CNN. The gun battle was around the town of Telskof in northern Iraq, the official added.
The SEAL was an adviser to Kurdish Peshmerga forces that are fighting ISIS, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement Tuesday.
The U.S. responded with F-15s and drones that dropped more than 20 bombs, according to a U.S. official.
The Pentagon declined to provide additional information on the SEAL’s identity, saying next of kin had not yet been notified. The SEAL’s rank will not be disclosed until the identity is made public, another U.S. defense official told CNN.
Late Tuesday afternoon, however, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey identified the SEAL as Charlie Keating IV, a graduate of Arcadia High School in Phoenix. He offered his throughts and prayers to Keating’s family and his fellow SEALs, and ordered flags in the state to be lowered to half-staff on Wednesday.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed the reports Tuesday while speaking to reporters in Germany, adding that the death shows “it’s a serious fight that we have to wage in Iraq.”
Cook added: “This sad news is a reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face every day in the ongoing fight to destroy ISIL and end the threat the group poses to the United States and the rest of the world. Our coalition will honor this sacrifice by dealing ISIL a lasting defeat.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama has been briefed on the death.
“Everyone extends condolences to service member killed,” Earnest said at his daily briefing with reporters, adding that it’s a reminder of the risks Americans continue to face even in advisory roles there.
The death is the third U.S. combat casualty since the U.S. redeployed forces to Iraq in the summer of 2014 to advise local forces and conduct special operations against ISIS.
Marine Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin was killed in March in a rocket attack
on a U.S. base in northern Iraq. And an October 2015 rescue mission in northern Iraq claimed the first American casualty, U.S. Army Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler.