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U.S. Soldier Killed During Hostage Rescue Mission In Iraq

An American soldier was injured during a hostage rescue operation in Iraq on Thursday and later died after receiving medical care, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.

This is how Cook described what happened:

"Early today in Iraq, at the request of the Kurdistan Regional Government, U.S. Special Operations Forces supported an Iraqi Peshmerga operation to rescue hostages at an ISIL prison near Hawijah, Iraq.

"This operation was deliberately planned and launched after receiving information that the hostages faced imminent mass execution. It was authorized consistent with our counter-ISIL effort to train, advise, and assist Iraqi forces.

"The U.S. provided helicopter lift and accompanied Iraqi Peshmerga forces to the compound. Approximately 70 hostages were rescued including more than 20 members of the Iraqi Security Forces. Five ISIL terrorists were detained by the Iraqis and a number of ISIL terrorists were killed as well. In addition, the U.S. recovered important intelligence about ISIL."

The American service member, who has not been named by the Pentagon, is the first to be killed in Iraq since the official end of combat in 2011.

The Washington Post reports:

"The operation highlights the risks facing troops on the ground in Iraq despite the Obama administration's efforts to keep American forces far from combat and avoid the bloodshed of the last Iraq war, when more than 4,000 U.S. servicemembers died.

"Iraqi forces have struggled to retake territory from the militant group, which is well-armed, well-funded, and dug in across much of Iraq and Syria, despite support from U.S. and allied war planes."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.