March 9, 2020 / 12:59 PM / 5 months ago

Two U.S. service members killed in Iraq during counter-ISIS mission

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. service members were killed in north central Iraq while accompanying Iraqi security forces on an mission targeting Islamic State, the U.S. military said in a statement on Monday attributing the deaths to “enemy forces.”

The two U.S. military members, killed on Sunday, were not being publicly identified until their families could be notified, the Combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve said in the statement released by the command.

The deaths highlight that despite losing its territorial caliphate in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State can still pose a threat.

An Inspector General report published earlier this year said that despite the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the militant group continued low-level attacks and while it did not appear to grow stronger, it did not “lose its freedom of movement or ability to hide and transport fighters and supplies in Iraq’s desert and mountainous terrain.”

“ISIS in Iraq retains enough manpower and planning capabilities to conduct regular small-scale attacks ... and

occasionally infiltrates urban centers, but has not tried to hold territory,” the Inspector General said it was told by Combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve.

There are about 5,200 U.S. troops in Iraq.

Reporting by Idrees Ali; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Alex Richardson and Steve Orlofsky

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