Killed US commando 'rushed into a firefight' with Isis militants

 Joshua Wheeler, 39, was from Oklahoma

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Friday 23 October 2015 21:44 BST

The US commando killed in a special operations raid on Thursday in Iraq against Isis fighters, rushed into a firefight to rescue Kurdish forces, the American’s defence chief has said.

Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler, 39, of Roland, Oklahoma, was killed during an overnight mission to rescue hostages held by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq, becoming the first American to die in combat in Iraq since 2011.

The Associated Press said that Defence Secretary Ash Carter said in a news briefing on Friday that US troops were not planning to enter the compound, and were there only to advise and assist Kurdish fighters known as peshmerga. But when a firefight ensued, Mr Wheeler ran to help Kurdish troops, Mr Carter said.

“He ran to the sound of the guns and he stood up,” Mr Carter said.

"All the indications are it was his actions and that of one of his teammates that protected those that were involved in breaching the compound and made the mission a success.”

Mr Wheeler was awarded the Purple Heart after his death, according to an Army statement.

Around 70 hostages were rescued in the action, which targeted an Islamic State prison close to town of Hawija.

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