The first American combat death in Syria happened on Thanksgiving. US officials say the service member was fatally injured in a blast from an improvised explosive device, the AP reports. The New York Times reports that officials say the American died in Ayn Issa in northern Syria, where Americans are assisting Arab and Kurdish fighters seeking to drive ISIS out of Raqqa, the capital of their "caliphate." "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—Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a statement. "On this Thanksgiving, please be thankful that there are service members willing to take up the fight to protect our homeland from ISIL's hateful and brutal ideology."
"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," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement. "It is a painful reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face around the world to keep us safe." In another first on Thursday, the Turkish government announced that three Turkish troops moving toward the ISIS-held northern Syrian city of Al Bab had been killed by Syrian planes, marking the first time that the Syrian military had killed Turkish troops since the civil war began.