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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, August 17, 2018

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Joint US and Kurdish raid frees 30 captives from IS prison

Commandos at an ISIS prison compound

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PHOTO CREDIT: BNN news

WASHINGTON/BEIRUT - A major rescue operation was jointly conducted by United States and Kurdish commandos at an Islamic State prison compound in Iraq where they freed at least 30 Kurdish captives but leaving one American service member dead, official sources said Thursday.

The operation took place near the northern Iraqi town of Hawija, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the mission whose details have not yet been made public.

An official announcement, according to the sources, was expected soon.

Iraqi officials said the raid involved American helicopters, Kurdish and American Special Operations forces.

"Kurdish special forces were said to have been in the lead, but American commandos were also on the ground," according to a New York Times report.

American airstrikes were also carried out to cut the roads leading to the site. Senior militants from the Islamic State were captured, and some of their prisoners were said to have been freed, the officials said.

"They cut off roads and raided the place successfully," one of the officials who confirmed the raid, Najmaldin Karim, the governor of surrounding Kirkuk Province, said in a telephone interview with the Times. "They were able to take people with them."

The operation marks the first time US military member has been killed in a combat situation in Iraq since America began attacks against the Islamic State last year.

The rescue report comes more than a month after Kurdish security forces said the Islamic State kidnapped dozens of men near Hawija.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the overnight rescue that concluded on Thursday was related to this early September kidnapping.

The Kurds are an ethnic group with an autonomous region in northern Iraq. The Kurdish Peshmerga, the military force that protects this region, has been fighting ISIS, which captured parts of Iraq and Syria for what it calls its Islamic caliphate.

The Hawija area has been struck by US-led warplanes seeking to weaken the Islamic State hold on parts of Iraq and Syria.

At least a dozen Islamic State fighters were believed killed in the raid, according to the Washington Post, citing unnamed sources.

Other media reports said some Islamic State militants were captured.

However, Kurdish media citing Kurdish officials said there was no such raid as reported.

"We are not aware of such an operation," an official from Iraqi Kurdistan Region's Ministry of Peshmarga told Rudaw, a Kurdish media network.> BNN

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