Kurdistan Region Security Council
IRBIL, Iraq — The Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq released a video Sunday purportedly showing the joint raid of a prison by U.S. and Kurdish peshmerga forces in which they released 70 hostages held by the Islamic State group.
The helmet camera footage allegedly shows the Thursday raid of the prison which was controlled by Islamic State militants in the town of Huwija, 15 kilometers (9 miles) west of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
A line of panicked men in traditional ankle-length garments are seen running past the camera, some with their hands up, as Arabic-speaking men scream at them, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” Gunfire rings out non-stop in the background. The soldiers as seen walking through a dark room with the Islamic State group’s trademark black flag draped on the wall. The rescued hostages are then frisked for weapons and led away.
Officials later said about 20 of the rescued hostages were members of Iraqi security forces.
Army Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler, 39, of Roland, Oklahoma, was killed during the raid, officials said. He was the first American to die in combat since the U.S. launched Operation Inherent Resolve last year.
The raid marked the first time US troops were involved in direct ground combat in Iraq since the war against the Islamic State group was launched in August 2014.
U.S. officials said the plan for the rescue mission had called for the U.S. troops, who are members of the elite and secretive Delta Force, to stay back from the prison compound and let the Kurds do the fighting. The Americans transported the Kurds to the scene aboard five U.S. helicopters. However, the U.S. troops were drawn into the fight to help the Kurdish soldiers.