Updated Aug 12, 2019

U.S. Marine Raider killed on mission in Iraq identified by Pentagon

The late Gunnery Sergeant Scott A. Koppenhafer, 35, a critical skills operator with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion. Photo: Department of Defense

A U.S. Marine was killed this weekend "after being engaged by enemy small arms fire while conducting combat operations" in Iraq, the Defense Department said in a statement Sunday.

Details: The Pentagon identified him as Gunnery Sgt. Scott A. Koppenhafer, 35, of Mancos, Colorado. The Defense Department said before his death Saturday, he was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve — a coalition tasked with fighting the Islamic State, or ISIS, per the Marine Corps Times, which reported on Koppenhafer's achievements in Iraq in 2018.

The big picture: An earlier statement from U.S. Central Command said an unnamed service member was killed while advising Iraqi security forces on a mission in the northern Nineveh province Saturday.

  • Koppenhafer was assigned to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the Pentagon said.
  • He was named "Marine Special Operator of the Year" for guiding elite Iraqi Special Operations Forces in northern Iraq, per the Marine Corps Times.

Background: Iraqi forces launched an operation last month to drive ISIS out of north of Baghdad, per AP, which notes the terrorist group has turned to insurgent attacks since Iraq declared victory over the extremists in 2017.

  • Defense Department figures show there have been 84 U.S. military casualties during Operation Inherent Resolve since it began in 2014.

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This article has been updated with more details on Koppenhafer.

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