A US service member was killed by an improvised explosive device in Syria on Thursday, which happened to be Thanksgiving day.
The soldier, who remains unnamed, is the first US service member to be killed in Syria since US special forces were deployed there in October 2015 to pursue ISIS, the Washington Post reports.
The service member was killed roughly 35 miles northwest of Raqqa, ISIS' capital, in the town of Ayn Issa.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter addressed the service member's death in a statement,
I am deeply saddened by the news on this Thanksgiving Day that one of our brave service members has been killed in Syria while protecting us from the evil of [ISIS]. Please keep this service member's family, friends and teammates in your thoughts and prayers, and this Thanksgiving I hope you will join me in expressing thanks to all of our dedicated troops who selflessly protect us everyday.”
Lt. Gen Stephen Townsend, who is commander of the US-led coalition fighting against ISIS, also expressed sadness over this tragic development,
The entire counter-[ISIS] coalition sends its condolences to this hero's, family, friends and teammates. On this Thanksgiving please be thankful there are service members willing to take up the fight to protect our homeland from [the Islamic State's] hateful and brutal ideology.
The US has around 500 troops in Syria, who are there to support Kurdish and Arab forces in the fight against ISIS.
Meanwhile, the US is also active in Iraq, where around 5,000 troops are currently deployed.
Over the past month or so, US troops in Iraq have focused their efforts on aiding Iraqi and Peshmerga as they fight to retake Mosul -- ISIS' final stronghold in Iraq.
Some US troops stationed near Mosul were able to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday.
It's nice to know they were able to enjoy a taste of home while they're off aiding in the fight against ISIS.
But, as evidenced by the death of the US soldier in Syria, these service members are still in harm's way, and we shouldn't forget that.
ISIS has put up a fierce fight in Mosul, retaking it would deal a major blow to the terrorist organization.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recently said the campaign to retake Raqqa, near where the US service member was killed, will also begin soon.
If ISIS loses both Mosul and Raqqa, it will be in very bad shape.