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Pentagon identifies US soldier killed in Iraq

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler killed in Iraq on Thursday.

The American soldier killed in a purported rescue mission in Iraq on Thursday against the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group has been identified as a 39-year-old special operations commando, according to the US Defense Department.

The Pentagon said on Friday that Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler of Roland, Oklahoma, was killed during an overnight special operations raid to rescue hostages held by Daesh militants in Iraq’s Kirkuk province.

Iraqi officials say that Kurdish and Iraqi forces were also involved in the rescue operation during which 69 hostages were freed from an ISIL prison located about 7 kilometers (4 miles) north of the town of Hawijah.

Wheeler became the first American to die in ground combat since Washington began its military campaign against Daesh in August 2014.

Wheeler was assigned to the US Army Special Operations Command headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina., the Pentagon said.

He entered the Army in 1995 and joined the US Army Special Operations Command in 2004, deploying 11 times in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a US Army statement.

US ground troops have rarely, if ever, participated directly in combat operations against Daesh terrorists. The US has largely limited its role to “training” and “advising” Iraqi and Kurdish forces and conducting airstrikes against ISIL.

The American-led military intervention against purported Daesh positions in Iraq started in June, 2014. A similar coalition began in Syria in September.

However, many observers say that while the US and its allies claim they are fighting against terrorist groups like Daesh, they in fact helped create and train those organizations to advance their policies in the Middle East.

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