A US serviceman has died in Iraq near the city of Ramadi, a statement from the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) announced on Monday 20 February, just as US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in the country for an unannounced visit.
The statement from the US-led force, fighting the Islamic State (IS) as part of the "Operation Inherent Resolve" in Iraq and Syria, said the serviceman died in a non-combat related incident.
It did not give further details for the circumstances of the death, but said further details would be released "as appropriate". The force's policy is to wait to identify casualties until the family members have been notified by the national authorities.
More than 5,000 troops are stationed in Iraq as part of a military effort to defeat the jihadists. US troops were dispatched near Ramadi to liberate the city, 110 km (68 mi) west of Baghdad, which had been seized by the Islamist group in May 2015. IS cells retained a presence in the outskirts of the city despite the coalition declaring the town liberated by the end of 2015.
Defence Secretary Mattis landed in Baghdad on Monday, reportedly to discuss operations against IS militants in the country. "The coalition forces are in support of this operation and we will continue ... with the accelerated effort to destroy Isis," he was quoted by Reuters. "We're not here to seize anybody's oil" he added, referring to remarks made by President Donald Trump in a speech to the CIA in January in which he hinted at "another chance" to keep Iraqi oil.
Mattis, who has served in Iraq and earned the nickname "Mad Dog" leading US troops in Fallujah in 2004, is expected to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. His visit comes on the second day of a ground offensive against Isis in their remaining stronghold in western Mosul. The Iraqi army, supported by US-led coalition airstrikes, Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Shia militias are advancing towards the airport, south of Mosul, targeting the nearby IS-held village of Abu Saif.