US service member killed during Iraqi Security Force mission identified

CT757fan/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Officials have identified a United States service member who was killed Saturday in the northern Nineveh province of Iraq while advising Iraqi security forces, according to the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

“One U.S. service member died today during an Iraqi Security Force mission in Ninewah province, Iraq, while advising and accompanying the (Iraqi security forces) during a planned operation,” the statement said.

On Sunday, the Department of Defense identified the service member as 35-year-old Gunnery Sergeant Scott A. Koppenhafer of Mancos, Colorado, who died “after being engaged by enemy small arms fire while conducting combat operations.”

A U.S. contractor was also killed in Saturday’s attack, according to a U.S. official.

The incident is currently under investigation, officials said in a statement.

Koppenhafer was assigned to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was named the Marine Special Operator of the Year for his role leading Marine Special Operations Team 8223, according to the Marine Corps Times.

Approximately 5,000 troops are currently stationed in Iraq as part of a security agreement with the Iraqi government to train, advise and assist the country’s troops in the fight against the Islamic State, which overran large parts of Iraq in 2014.

Iraqi forces have recently launched operations in the country’s north to weed out remnants of the Islamic State group.

This is the first combat-related death of an American service member in Iraq this year. Two American service members and a Defense Department civilian were killed in Manbij, Syria in January as part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS there.

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