A U.S. service member has died after being wounded in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in northern Syria, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said on November 24, marking the first time a member of the U.S. military has been killed in the current conflict in the war-torn country.
The man was wounded by the explosion in the vicinity of Ayn Issa, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, commander of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, was quoted as saying in a CENTCOM statement.
The statement said further information will be released "as appropriate."
It was the first death of a U.S. service member in Syria since the deployment of a contingent of Special Operations forces to the country in October 2015 to battle Islamic State (IS) militants there, the U.S. military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported.
Ayn Issa is located some 50 kilometers northwest of the city of Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of IS militants in Syria.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter called the death a "painful reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face around the world to keep us safe" and expressed his condolences.
"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 ISIL," Carter said in a statement, using an alternative acronym for the IS group.
The service member had been deployed as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, a U.S. military operation against IS militants in Syria and northern Iraq. The name of the soldier had not yet been released to the public.
At least one other U.S. service member was injured in the November 24 blast as well, according to a senior defense official.
There as many as 300 U.S. service members deployed in Syria at any given time.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, NBC News, ABC News, and Stars and Stripes