WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military will not provide details on specific cases of American service members injured in Iraq and Syria because it could give information to Islamic State militants, a Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday
The spokesman, Peter Cook, was responding to a question at a Pentagon press briefing seeking confirmation that four Americans had been wounded in Syria earlier this month.
Cook said there had been no a change in policy and aggregate numbers would still be provided.
“Our policy is not to identify wounded service members for a variety of reasons, including operational security, including privacy reasons,” Cook said.
“Also, we do not want to provide additional information to the enemy that might enhance their own assessment on the battlefield situation,” he said.
However, the Pentagon has released such information in the past and responded to queries, and it was unclear how Cook’s comments were consistent with previous disclosures.
Last month a spokesman said two U.S. service member had been injured, one each in Iraq and Syria, during the last weekend in May. Captain Jeff Davis said the incident in Iraq took place in the north, near Erbil, while the injury in Syria was north of Raqqa, Islamic State’s de facto capital.
According to Pentagon data, there have been 16 American service members wounded in action since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve, the military’s name for an operation targeting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria which started in 2014.
Cook’s comments came the same day that President Barack Obama visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center; he has visited wounded U.S. service members there throughout his presidency.
Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Leslie Adler