US Navy Seal killed in Iraq as IS at­tacked Pesh­merga lines

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A US Navy Seal who was ad­vis­ing Kur­dish Pesh­merga forces in north­ern Iraq has been killed by Is­lamic State (IS) mil­i­tants, US defence of­fi­cials say.

The spe­cial war­fare op­er­a­tor was named as Char­lie Keat­ing, aged 31, from the state of Ari­zona.

Pesh­merga of­fi­cials said the mil­i­tants breached the front­line north of the IS-held city of Mo­sul on Tues­day morn­ing.

The Amer­i­can was the third to be killed in com­bat since the US-led coalition cam­paign against IS be­gan in 2014.

Al­though Iraqi pro-gov­ern­ment forces have grad­u­ally pushed back IS since then with the help of USled coalition air strikes and mil­i­tary ad­vis­ers, the ji­hadist group still con­trols large parts of the coun­try's north and west. IS of­fen­sive The Navy Seal's death was an­nounced by US Defence Sec­re­tary Ash­ton Carter, who said only that a ser­vice­man had died as a re­sult of en­emy fire near Ir­bil, the cap­i­tal of Iraq's Kur­dis­tan Re­gion.

"It is a com­bat death, of course, and a very sad loss," he told re­porters in Ger­many.

A US mil­i­tary of­fi­cial in Iraq sub­se­quently said he was killed by "di­rect fire" at a Pesh­merga po­si­tion about 3km to 5km (2-3 miles) be­hind the front­line af­ter it was pen­e­trated by IS mil­i­tants.

A Pesh­merga spokesman, Maj Gen Jaber Yawer, told the As­so­ci­ated Press that the Amer­i­can was shot dead by an IS sniper near the town of Tal Asqof, about 28km (17 miles) from Mo­sul.

IS mil­i­tants over­ran the town at dawn on Tues­day in an as­sault that in­volved a num­ber of truck bombs, but were driven out later in the day by Pesh­merga fight­ers.

The at­tack on Tal Asqof was part of a ma­jor of- fen­sive launched by IS mil­i­tants in north­ern Iraq, which the group said in­volved "re­motely-guided car bombs".

An Iraqi mil­i­tary source told the BBC that spe­cial forces had foiled an at­tack by five sui­cide bombers in the vil­lage of Khir­bir­dan, south of Mo­sul.

A Pesh­merga source said an at­tack on War­dak, east of Mo­sul, was also re­pelled.

Ari­zona Gov­er­nor Doug Ducey later iden­ti­fied the Navy Seal as 31-year-old Char­lie Keat­ing IV - the grand­son of a late fi­nancier from the state in­volved in sav­ings and loan scan­dal in the 1980s.

Gov Ducey or­dered all state flags to fly at half­mast on Wed­nes­day in hon­our of Keat­ing. Additional ad­vis­ers There are more than 5,500 US mil­i­tary per­son­nel in Iraq. Some 3,870 are de­ployed to ad­vise and as­sist lo­cal forces fight­ing IS mil­i­tants.

The re­main­der in­cludes spe­cial oper­a­tions per­son­nel, lo­gis­tics work­ers and troops on tem­po­rary ro­ta­tions.

Last month, the US an­nounced that it planned to send 200 additional ad­vis­ers to Iraq by the end of the year and de­ploy them closer to the front­lines so that they could as­sist in the op­er­a­tion to re­take Mo­sul.

In March, US Ma­rine Staff Sgt Louis Cardin was killed in a rocket at­tack by IS while pro­vid­ing force pro­tec­tion fire sup­port at a coalition fire­base near Makhmour, south-west of Mo­sul, that had only be­come op­er­a­tional a few days ear­lier.

US Army Mas­ter Sgt Joshua Wheeler died in Oc­to­ber dur­ing a spe­cial forces mis­sion to res­cue hostages held at an IS prison near Haw­ija, west of Kirkuk.

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