U.S. and Kurdish special forces who raided a compound in northern Iraq were acting on intelligence that Kurdish fighters were being imprisoned there by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a source in the Kurdistan Region Security Council said on Friday.
Kurdish counter-terrorism forces planned and led the raid which rescued 69 people early on Thursday, supported by U.S. forces, Iraqi Kurdistan’s U.S. representative said. One U.S. commando was killed, the first American to die in ground combat with ISIS militants. Four Kurds were wounded.
Such rescue attempts are rare. The joint operation highlighted the status of Kurdish peshmerga fighters as key allies of the U.S.-led coalition against the militants, who control large swathes of Iraq and neighboring Syria.
“The intention was to rescue peshmerga taken hostage by ISIL,” said the source in the Security Council of Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq, using a different acronym for ISIS.
“We had solid intelligence that peshmerga were being held in that compound,” the source told Reuters.
The raid was led by forces from the Directorate-General for Counterterrorism of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, said Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, Kurdistan’s diplomatic representative in Washington D.C.
U.S. Special Forces commandos participated in the raid, Rahman said, and U.S. airstrikes and helicopter operations were launched as part of the operation.
“We share in American's grief for its fallen soldier, Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler,” Rahman said.
According to Kurdish media, the raided facility was an estate or compound formerly owned by an Iraqi government judge.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a news briefing on Friday that U.S. troops had not planned to enter the compound, and were there only to advise and assist the Kurdish fighters.
None of the captives freed by the raiders were peshmerga, suggesting that Kurdish prisoners may have been moved by militants to another location, a Kurdish source added.
The freed detainees were Arabs and included around 20 members of the Iraqi security forces. The others were local residents and ISIS fighters that the group had accused of spying or treason, said U.S. and Kurdish officials.
The prisoners were about to be executed and dumped in four mass graves, the official said.
ISIS militants attacked Kurdish positions on the frontline in Gwer, south of the region’s capital, overnight on Friday, after the raid.
An ISIS statement circulated online by the group’s supporters said “dozens” of peshmerga had been killed in the attack carried out by a suicide bomber. But Qader Hassan, a peshmerga on the frontline, said only two people had been
killed, and they belonged to an Iraqi army unit based there.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر