Special Warfare Operator First Class Charles Keating, 31, of San Diego was killed in Iraq last week. Video footage has emerged from the firefight in Northern Iraq were an American appears to be heard saying, “I don’t have a gun,” another responds, “I have a gun over here.”
An officer of a Kurdish peshmerga unit provided The Guardian with the video, which shows a convoy coming under attack near Tel Osqof, a town about 18 miles north of the ISIS stronghold of Mosul.
As the firefight erupts, several American troops and peshmerga fighters take cover behind a truck.
“I don’t have a gun,” an American appears to say. Another responds: “I have a gun over here.”
One peshmerga shouts: “Please save up your bullets.” Another asks: “Can we not ask for AK-47 bullets from the Americans?”
Lt. Saad, who shot part of the video, praised the Americans for helping push back the jihadists’ assault.
“If it was not for the American firepower, we would have more casualties. They are really good fighters,” he said.
Special Warfare Operator First Class Charles Keating, 31, of San Diego was killed in the skirmish — becoming the third US combat casualty in Iraq since the US-led coalition launched its campaign against ISIS almost two years ago.
A US Black Hawk medical chopper is seen landing outside Tel Osqof before taking off again, but it was unclear if Keating was aboard, reported The Guardian, which said it blurred the faces of US forces after consulting with the Pentagon.
A peshmerga fighter can be heard saying “it has come to take away the wounded.”
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has described Keating’s death as “a combat death,” as did White House press secretary Josh Earnest — though he characterized the overall mission as short of combat, the paper reported.
“Our men and women on the ground in Iraq do not have a combat mission, but they do have a dangerous mission to operate in a dangerous country,” Earnest said.
The White House has maintained that US forces in the region — as many as 5,500 — are there in an advisory capacity only.
On April 25, President Obama announced the deployment of 250 additional special-ops troops to Syria.
“They’re not going to be leading the fight on the ground, but they will be essential in providing the training and assisting local forces that continue to drive [ISIS] back,” he said, the paper reported.
Military spokesman Col. Steve Warren said Keating was part of a quick reaction force, or QRF, supporting an “advise-and-assist” mission that “just happened to be in that village” meeting with peshmerga commanders behind the front lines at Tel Osqof.
US advisers helped peshmerga troops fight at least 125 ISIS extremists, he said.
“Our forces automatically became embroiled in the ensuing battle,” Warren said, and called in the reaction force, The Guardian reported. “It was a big fight, one of the largest we’ve seen recently.”
Keating’s unit was tasked with extricating US forces from the fight, he added.
“That’s why the QRF went, to help extract them. It was a big fight. They were in contact [with the enemy], they couldn’t get away. So the QRF came to help ensure they were able to get away,” Warren said.
The stricken warrior was airlifted to a medical facility in Irbil, the Iraqi Kurdish capital, but eventually died.