A blast detonated by an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Manbij area of Syria killed two soldiers last week, one from the U.S. and one from the U.K, and injured five others.
The Pentagon confirmed on Monday that the U.S. soldier killed in action, identified as Master Sgt. Jonathan Dunbar, was on a classified mission targeting an alleged ISIS leader, according to The Hill.
Dunbar was reportedly working with Coalition forces on a mission “to kill or capture a known ISIS member when they were struck by an IED,” according to a statement from Pentagon Spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway.
“This operation was part of the Coalition’s mission to defeat ISIS, and we remain focused on our mission,” he added.
While few details have been released about the explosion, CNN reported that, according to a U.S. official, the troops were out of their vehicles at the time. There is also no word on whether the individual or group responsible for the IED was found and captured or killed.
The Pentagon was also careful not to release too many details when the incident was originally reported.
Dunbar was first identified publicly by the Army only as being “assigned to Headquarters, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C,” according to CNN. That classification is usually reserved for troops killed in action who were part of the Army’s elite Delta Force.
A U.S. official confirmed to CNN that Dunbar was assigned to Delta, which consists of soldiers who specialize in high-risk counterterrorism and hostage rescue missions that are rarely disclosed publicly. Special Operations Forces have been in the Manbij region recently to look for high-value ISIS members, the U.S. official explained.
Dunbar, who was from Austin, Texas, was described by the Pentagon as a “team member” who had been deployed three times in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for Operation Inherent Resolve, the military campaign against ISIS that began in 2014. About 2,000 U.S. troops are currently deployed in Syria to support Kurdish fighters.
Dunbar’s death came just one day before President Donald Trump proclaimed during a speech in Ohio that the U.S. will be out of Syria “very soon” in light of recent successes in the fight against ISIS.
“Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon, very soon, we’re coming out,” he said.
While Trump has publicly expressed his desire to withdraw on numerous occasions, Pentagon officials have stressed the need for U.S. troops to remain in the region for the foreseeable future.