One US service member died during a rescue operation early Oct.? 22 in Hawijah, Iraq, that freed 70 captives held by ISIS, including more than 20 members of the Iraqi Security Forces. Defense Secretary Ash Carter approved the operation, which came at the request of the Kurdistan Regional Government, even though there were no American hostages and the US military did not know specifically who was being held at the compound. The US service member, whose name and service affiliation had not yet been released as of Thursday, was shot while trying to rescue the captives and later died. Four Peshmerga fighters also were injured, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said on Thursday. US intelligence showed that hostages had recently been executed, and those still being held captive were at risk of a mass execution “within hours,” said Cook. “We acted, and thanks to the actions of not only Iraqi forces involved here but the US forces here, lives were saved.” Five ISIS fighters were captured in the operation and the Kurdistan government reported more than 20 ISIS fighters were killed. Cook said the operation is consistent with the United States’ train, advise, and assist mission in Iraq. Peshmerga forces took the lead in the assault on the compound while US forces assisted them, Cook said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.