U.S. special operations forces reportedly have carried out several covert combat missions against ISIS over the past year, contrary to the Pentagon’s insistence that operations like last week’s raid of an ISIS-held prison in northern Iraq was a “unique” circumstance.
Bloomberg View reported that a special operations task force staffs an operations center in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil to support such missions. The report, which cited U.S. and Kurdish officials, claimed that the task force has worked in recent months to identify and locate senior leaders of ISIS. Members of the group also participated in last week’s raid, during which Army Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler was killed. Wheeler became the first American to die in combat since the launch of anti-ISIS operations last year.
At a Pentagon briefing in Baghdad Tuesday, spokesman Col. Peter Warren answered a question about whether U.S. forces in Iraq were in combat against ISIS in no uncertain terms.
“We’re in combat,” Warren said. “I thought I made that pretty clear … That is why we all carry guns. That’s why we all get combat patches when we leave here, that’s why we all receive [an] immediate danger badge. So, of course we’re in combat.”