Pentagon revises report on death of US Marine in Iraq

Pentagon revises report on death of US Marine in Iraq

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Gunnery Sergeant Scott A. Koppenhafer, 35, of Mancos, Colorado, died August 10, 2019, after being engaged by enemy small arms fire while conducting combat operations in Iraq (DoD photo)

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has revised the initial report of a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq during an encounter with ISIS forces.

The first Pentagon report said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Scott A. Koppenhafer died Saturday after “being engaged by enemy small-arms fire while conducting combat operations.” That would mean he was killed by ISIS.

However, the revised release sent to Pentagon reporters Tuesday night said Koppenhafer was fatally wounded while supporting Iraqi Security Forces. The adjustment reflects some thinking that Koppenhafer may have been accidentally killed by friendly fire from U.S. or Iraqi forces.

Koppenhafer, 35, of Mancos, Colorado, is the first U.S. service personnel to die in Iraq this year while facing hostile fire. A Marine commando, he was assigned to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; last year he was named the Marine’s top commando.

He is survived by his wife and two children.

About 5,200 U.S. troops remain in Iraq as part of a security agreement with the Baghdad to train, advise, and assist its forces in the battle against ISIS, which overran large parts of Iraq in 2014.

It is unclear what role Koppenhafer’s unit was executing at the time of the attack. U.S. troops rarely are involved in front-line operations in Iraq. The incident occurred during clearing operations against ISIS in Ninevah province.

The death remains under investigation, the Pentagon said.

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