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Navy chief killed in Iraq was caught in ISIS firefight

The Navy chief who was killed in Iraq last week was caught in a firefight near the forward line of troops just moments before he was killed by an improvised explosive device, military officials said Tuesday.

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan, 34, was fatally wounded on Oct. 20 near the town of Bashiq, about 10 miles north of Mosul, while operating with Kurdish P​peshmerga forces, according to a statement Tuesday from Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve.

Finan is the fourth U.S. combat death in Iraq since U.S. military operations against the Islamic State group began there in August 2014.

Finan was behind the forward line of troops advising pP​eshmerga forces during their offensive on Mosul when the unit he was with came under small arms fire, the statement said.

Finan was moving to a better position when his vehicle struck an improved explosive device, the statement said.

A medical evacuation helicopter took Finan to the military medical hospital in IE​rbil, where he died from the wounds he sustained by the IED explosion, officials said.

U.S. military officials say more than 100 U.S. troops are embedded with Iraqi battalion- and brigade-level units as the operation against the Islamic State’s stronghold in Mosul enters its second week.

The U.S. troops, advising both Kurdish and Iraqi Army units, are pushing forward with mobile headquarters elements as the fight moves toward the dense city center, according to U.S. officials familiar with the operation.

Finan's was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Three in Coronado.

"His sacrifice will not be in vain," Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a prepared statement.

"Our troops are in harm's way supporting our partners in their fight against [the Islamic State group], which presents a very real danger to not only the region, but the United States and our friends and allies around the world as well," Townsend said.

"This barbaric ideology must be defeated and I thank God every day that we have warriors like Chief Finan who are willing to take up that fight," he said.

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