At 9:30 am local time,ISIL militants,having broken through Kurdish Peshmerga front lines near the town of Tel Asqof in Northern Iraq with bulldozers and suicide bombs,including vehicle-borne IEDs,killed a US Navy SEAL with direct small arms fire 3-5 km behind the front lines.He's been identified as Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Charles Keating IV,31,of Phoenix,Arizona,grandson of the late banker Charles H. Keating,Jr.,who was imprisoned for five years for financial crimes committed in the 1980s.SWO Keating,based at Coronado,California,was there advising and assisting the Peshmerga,who are regarded as among the most effective fighting forces in the anti-ISIL Operation Inherent Resolve.*
The militants had overrun Asqof at dawn in a rare,if temporary,loss by the Kurds.SWO Keating,engaged to be married,was killed in a firefight that erupted in the course of the extended battle that followed.US F-15Cs and drones came to the Kurds' assistance,dropping at least 20 bombs and helping to drive ISIL back out of Tel Asqof.It was the third US combat death in OIR.Besides SWO Keating,according to the Kurdistan Region Security Council,more than 80 militants and at least 10 Kurds died in the Battle of Tel Asqof,which is about 28 km/17 miles from the ISIL stronghold of Mosul.Christian militiamen also assisted the Kurds.*
The US is in the process of moving Special Operations Forces closer to the front lines in Northern Iraq,and bringing in more troops and Apache helicopters as OIR ground forces begin encircling Mosul,having driven ISIL out of Ramadi,Anbar Province in December 2015,and then expelling them from the Hit region,also in Anbar Province,driving the Islamist extremists up the Euphrates River Valley.