Even as the Iraqi Security Forces near perhaps the greatest victory in their history by having liberated all but a pocket of the longtime Islamist extremist stronghold of Mosul,a young US Army officer was killed in action on 29 April 2017 by an Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant IED as he helped secure the outskirts of the city.He was identified by the Pentagon as 1st Lieutenant Weston C. Lee,25,of Bluffton,Georgia.1ST LT Lee was on a patrol in support of Operation Inherent Resolve,providing security as part of advise and assist to partnered forces,when the IED exploded.ISIL militants have heavily mined and booby-trapped all the areas of and around Mosul they withdrew from,making the city and surrounding area extremely hazardous.*
1ST LT Lee was a member of the 1st Battalion,325th Infantry Regiment,2nd Brigade Combat Team,82nd Airborne Division,out of Fort Bragg,North Carolina.An ROTC graduate of the University of North Georgia,he had enlisted in the Army in 2015 and excelled in pistol marksmanship as an ROTC cadet.Commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in December 2014,1ST LT Lee earned his Ranger tab prior to his Parachutist badge.Among his other decorations were the National Defense Service Medal,Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.The paratrooper was on his first tour in Iraq,having deployed there in December 2016,and posthumously received the Bronze Star Medal,Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.*
At this point,the ISF have wiped out most of the 6,000 ISIL fighters that had been holding Mosul.Only 200-300 remain,and they are surrounded in the city's northwest,dug in among about 400,000 civilians running short on food,water and medicine in the historic Old City area.Mostly the US-trained Counter Terrorism Service and Federal Police are fighting inside Mosul;while the Iraqi Army regulars,Shiite volunteers and Kurdish Peshmerga control the perimeter.A total of about 100,000 ground troops supported by OIR coalition airpower and artillery have been battling ISIL in the Battle of Mosul since October 2016,which is expected to be concluded in a maximum of three weeks' time.