US Marine killed in Iraq days after Pentagon warned of ISIS resurgence
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A US Marine from Colorado who had been serving in Iraq was killed in combat over the weekend — just days after the Pentagon warned of an “ISIS resurgence,” according to defense officials.
Gunnery Sgt. Scott A. Koppenhafer, 35, died Saturday “after being engaged by enemy small arms fire,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
He was advising an Iraqi Security Force mission in Ninewah Province — in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, a US-led military campaign to counter ISIS — when the incident occurred.
“Koppenhafer was assigned to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina,” defense officials said. His death “is under investigation.”
Koppenhafer hailed from the Colorado town of Mancos, which is about 30 miles west of Durango. He joined the Marines in 2005 — first serving as a machine gunner and later as a scout sniper, according to KUSA.
Over the course of his military career, Koppenhafer won several medals — including two Bronze stars and a Humanitarian Service medal. He was dubbed MARSOC’s Critical Skills Operator of the Year in 2018. The Marine reportedly leaves behind a wife and two children.
Koppenhafer’s death comes just days after Pentagon officials reported a resurgence in ISIS-related activity in Iraq and Syria.
“Despite losing its territorial ‘caliphate,’ the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq and was re-surging in Syria,” officials warned.
The “removal or reduction” of US forces in the region was listed as one of the main reasons why the terror group was still making waves.
“This report speaks for itself and should be taken seriously,” tweeted former US Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk, who resigned from the Trump administration in December after the president announced plans to withdraw troops.
Trump has said that “pretty soon” the US will be “out” of the region completely.
“Let them handle their own problems,” he tweeted last month. “Syria can handle their own problems — along with Iran, along with Russia, along with Iraq, along with Turkey. We’re 7,000 miles away.”