Besmaya military base, Baghdad
US military advisers have been assisting Peshmerga forces in their fight against Islamic State in Iraq Reuters

A US Navy Seal who was killed in combat against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Iraq has been named as Charlie Keating, a 31-year-old native of Arizona. He died near the city of Irbil in northern Iraq on 3 May after IS (Daesh) fighters broke through Kurdish Peshmerga lines.

Keating grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. His family described him as "a real-life superhero".

Defence Secretary Ash Carter announced Keating's death on 3 May and offered his condolences to the fallen serviceman's family.

"It is a combat death, of course, and a very sad loss. It shows you it's a serious fight that we have to wage in Iraq," he was quoted as saying by Associated Press.

Keating was the third American to be killed in combat since the US military began operations against IS in 2014.

Maj Gen Jaber Yawer, a Kurdish Peshmerga spokesman, told AP that Keating was killed by sniper fire in an IS offensive that also involved car bombs.

The attack reportedly happened 23km (14 miles) north of Mosul at dawn, and left at least three Kurdish fighters dead before it was repelled. Keating was among an American contingent assisting the Kurds during the battle.

But an unnamed US defence official contradicted that story, claiming that the Navy Seal was killed by small arms fire.

'Real-life superhero'

Keating's cousin Liz told the Arizona Republic that he had a "sense of duty to serve his country".

"He just had this sense of purpose for what he was doing. He loved what he was doing. He was a real-life superhero," she said.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey directed all state flags to be lowered to half-mast from sunrise to sunset on 4 May in Keating's honour.

"His death is a tragic reminder of the daily sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform – fighting evil and extremism on the front lines to protect freedom and democracy at home and throughout the world," he said.

"Our thoughts, prayers and eternal gratitude are with Mr Keating, his family, his fellow Seals, and all of the brave Americans who have answered the call to serve."