Two US Marines were killed Sunday in an attack on an ISIS cave complex in the mountains of north central Iraq. The unidentified Marines from an elite Raiders unit were advising Iraqi soldiers in the Qara Chockh Mountains, about 37 miles south of Erbil, when they were killed by enemy forces, officials said Monday, per NBC News and Military.com, adding four additional US troops were injured. A coalition spokesman said the recovery of the dead and wounded took some six hours, per Military.com. Officials estimated that some 15 to 19 ISIS fighters had been killed. The Iraqi military said at least 25 ISIS fighters were killed and nine tunnels and a training camp were destroyed, per the Washington Post.
These are the first US combat deaths since a Marine Raider, Gunnery Sgt. Scott Koppenhafer, was killed during a mission to track an ISIS suspect in Iraq's Nineveh province in August, though two US personnel were killed in a joint operation between US and Afghan forces last month, per NBC. "The Makhmur Mountains are historically known to be an ISIS safe haven. However, there is no safe place for ISIS to hide," officials said, per Military.com. "The Coalition, alongside our partner forces, will continue to hunt the remnants of the illegitimate caliphate in order to disrupt any effort to resurge." There are approximately 5,200 US troops in Iraq to assist in the fight against ISIS. (Read more Marines stories.)