US serviceman killed in Syria on Thanksgiving
An American soldier has died in northern Syria after being fatally wounded after an improvised explosive device went off, the US military's Central Command (CENTCOM) announced on Thanksgiving Day.
The soldier succumbed to his wounds on Thursday after being wounded in an improvised explosive device blast in the town of Ain Issa, just 50 km (30 miles) north of Raqqah. No further details have been provided.
Responding to the death of the US soldier, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that the death is “painful reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face around the world to keep us safe.”
Commander of the US-led coalition Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend called the soldier a “hero” as he sent condolences to family.
“The entire counter-ISIL Coalition sends our condolences to this hero's family, friends and teammates,” said Townsend. “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.”
US military advisers are actively operating on the ground in Syria despite Damascus’ objections. American special forces are playing an active role in supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) attempting to retake Raqqa, the stronghold of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria.
Some 300 US personnel are believed to be providing training and assistance to the SDF forces in their fight against IS terrorists. Earlier this month an RT crew on the ground managed to capture footage of US soldiers in the vicinity of Raqqa. They are believed to be part of a special forces contingent that US President Barack Obama authorized for deployment in Syria in April.
On November 6, the Syrian Democratic Forces launched the Euphrates Wrath Operation, with support from the US-led coalition. The operation is a “massive military campaign to liberate the city and its countryside from the clutches of ISIL.” The push on Raaqa is said to involve 30,000 SDF troops, mainly comprised of the Syrian Kurdish YPG.