Pentagon Investigating Whether Friendly Fire Killed US Marine in Iraq

Elias Hubbard
August 13, 2019

PHOTO: Gunnery Sergeant Scott A. Koppenhafer, 35, a critical skills operator with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, suffered fatal wounds during combat operations while supporting Iraqi Security Forces.

In a statement Sunday, the Pentagon says Koppenhafer died after being engaged by enemy small-arms fire while conducting combat operations. The Pentagon is now looking into whether he was accidentally shot by US or Iraqi forces instead.

He joined the Marine Corps in 2005 and spent the past 10 years as a MARSOC critical skills operator.

The incident marks the first USA combat death in Iraq since troops returned to the country in 2014 to fight the Islamic State terrorist group*, the Wall Street Journal reported citing defence officials.

The U.S. military is investigating whether friendly fire resulted in the death of a Marine in Iraq over the weekend, officials said.

Koppenhafer leaves behind a wife and two children.

A statement from Operation Inherent Resolve said the service member was advising and accompanying the ISF during a planned operation.

In a press release, the Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) stated, "It is with heavy hearts that Marine Forces Special Operations Command announces the death of a Marine Raider following injuries sustained during combat action in Iraq...our most honest thoughts are with the family and teammates of Gunnery Sergeant Koppenhafer during this hard time".

Koppenhafer was from the Colorado town of Mancos, which lies 30 miles west of Durango. Before joining the Marines special operations, he was a machine gunner with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, and later as a scout sniper, completing deployments with both the 31st and 11th Marine Expeditionary Units.

Iraqi forces have launched new operations in the region to target remnants of the Islamic State, after Pentagon officials recently reported a resurgence in ISIS-related activity in the north of the country. A Pentagon inspector general's report on the fight against ISIS released earlier this month warned that "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".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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