The United States military suffered its first casualty in Syria when a soldier died Thursday of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated, U.S. Central Command said. The soldier’s name has not been disclosed.
“I am deeply saddened by the news on this Thanksgiving Day that one of our brave service members has been killed in Syria while protecting us from the evil of ISIL [the Islamic State group , also called ISIS],” Defense Secretary Ash Carter reportedly said.
He called the death a “painful reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face around the world to keep us safe.”
The solider was near Ayn Issa in northern Syria when the device exploded, U.S. authorities said and was part of the Combined Joint Task Force- Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) – the American military operation fighting ISIS in Syria and northern Iraq. At least, one U.S. soldier was also injured in the attack.
Commander of CTJF-OIR Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend said: “The entire counter-ISIL Coalition sends our condolences to this hero’s family, friends and teammates. On this Thanksgiving, please be thankful that there are service members willing to take up the fight to protect our homeland from ISIL’s hateful and brutal ideology.”
U.S. warplanes have been bombing targets in Syria to help liberate Raqqa city from the clutches of ISIS. At least 300 American troops are on the ground to help recruit, train and advise Kurdish and Arab fighters.
Turkish military also suffered losses Thursday. A Syrian monitoring group said three Turkish soldiers were killed and 10 injured in an alleged suicide bomb attack claimed by ISIS.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said Thursday that President Barack Obama, whose administration is working toward reducing the number of Americans involved in the fight against the terrorist group in Syria, could be working till his last day in office to end the ongoing war which has left thousands dead and displaced millions.
“I would never underestimate an outgoing U.S. president as a lame duck,” de Mistura reportedly said. “President Obama... and Secretary of State John Kerry are very motivated to end the greatest humanitarian tragedy of this century that has played out during their time in office. It's about their legacy.”