Navy explosives technician is first US death in battle for Mosul
SAN ANTONIO – The Pentagon on Friday identified the first U.S. death in the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group as a 34-year-old Navy explosives technician.
Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan of Anaheim, California, was killed Thursday by an improvised explosive device while serving in an advisory role with Iraqi coalition troops, Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, a Navy spokeswoman, said Friday in a news release.
Finan, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, was operating with Iraqi counterterrorism forces northeast of Mosul when the vehicle that he was in hit an IED, a senior U.S. defense official said Thursday. Finan was medevaced to Irbil but he died there as a result of his injures.
As many as 200 U.S. special operators have been embedded with Iraqi and Kurdish units moving to the front lines of the battle to retake the city from an estimated 3,000-5,000 Islamic State fighters, according to the Pentagon.
But the advance toward entrenched Islamic State positions around Mosul has slowed due to the use of suicide car bombs and mortar fire, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. Ringed defenses of roadside bombs and houses wired for detonation are hallmarks of the Islamic State group, putting a premium on explosives experts.
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