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Pentagon: Ordered deadly Iraq raid after "graves" were prepared for hostages

21:28 24 October 2015 Author :   The Staff

U.S. forces engaged in the deadly raid to free ISIS hostages in northern Iraq after they saw the prisoners' "graves had been prepared," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday.

He reiterated that U.S. service members were in "advise and assist" roles, saying that the plan was not for American forces to enter the firefight. However, he later added, "This is combat, things are complicated."

Secretary Carter said the freed hostages explained what they had experienced after the rescue, adding that "we could see" the graves next to the compound.

One American was killed in the raid, the first U.S. service member to die in the ground fight against ISIS in Iraq. The Pentagon identified him as 39-year-old Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler of Roland, Oklahoma, and said his body would return to the U.S. Saturday.

Pentagon officials say he died from enemy fire during the operation to free as many as 70 Arab hostages. They say he was assigned to Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

Dozens of U.S. special operations troops and Iraqi forces raided the compound Thursday, killing and capturing a number of militants, and recovering what the Pentagon called a trove of valuable intelligence about the terrorist organization.


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