US service member dies in ‘mishap’ while on patrol in Syria
A U.S. service member with the international coalition to defeat ISIS died Tuesday in Syria while on security patrol, according to a top commander.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth Ekman, deputy commander for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said the soldier died in a “mishap” in northeastern Syria.
“We have no indications that that patrol was anything other than a normal patrol,” Ekman told reporters Wednesday at the Pentagon via satellite from Baghdad.
He said the incident is under investigation.
The task force said in a statement Tuesday that initial reports “indicate the incident was not due to enemy contact.”
The coalition is withholding the identity of the service member until notification of next of kin.
The deadly incident marked the 10th U.S. fatality this year under Inherent Resolve, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center.
U.S. troops are in Syria to train and assist Kurdish-led forces fighting ISIS, providing the militia with intelligence and equipment and bolstering them with airstrikes.
Ekman, who declined to reveal the number of U.S. troops in Syria, said American forces have near-daily contact with Russian troops who are in the country in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.
“We have no indications that any Russian activity existed at the location of the unfortunate loss,” Ekman said.
He added that U.S. military officials speak with their Russian counterparts in Syria several times a day as “neither nation wants any sort of a miscalculation.”