SYRIA – A US service member was killed in northern Syria from wounds sustained in a blast from an improvised explosive device, according to the US-led coalition fighting ISIS.
He was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two, which is based in Virginia Beach, WTKR reports.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton, 42, of Woodbridge, died Thursday.
This marks the first time a US service member has been killed inside Syria since a small number of US Special Forces were sent there last year to advise and assist Syrian forces battling ISIS, also known as ISIL.
“The entire counter-ISIL coalition sends our condolences to this hero’s family, friends and teammates,” Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a statement.
Dayton joined the Navy on Feb. 17, 1993 and during his service received 19 awards including Bronze Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, seven Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy “E” Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, two Iraq Campaign Medals and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
He was an Enlisted Explosive Ordnance Disposal Warfare Specialist and Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist.
The incident occurred in the vicinity of Ayn Issa, some 30 miles north of ISIS’s self-declared capital of Raqaa. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and other top defense officials have said operations to retake the city from ISIS would begin in the near term, as the battle against ISIS in its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul is already underway.
An estimated 300 US Special Forces are currently operating in Syria advising the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is made up of a number of local militias, including the Kurdish YPG.
Beyond the death Thursday, four US service members have been killed in Iraq since military options to dislodge ISIS from both countries began in 2014.
“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, Carter said in a separate statement Thursday.
“It is a painful reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face around the world to keep us safe,” he said.