The Pentagon on Tuesday identified the two U.S. Marine Raiders killed in Iraq on Sunday during an anti-ISIS mission, a deadly reminder of the terror group's ongoing presence there.
According to the U.S.-led coalition in Baghdad, the two Marines were "killed by enemy forces while advising and accompanying Iraqi Security Forces during a mission to eliminate an ISIS terrorist stronghold in a mountainous area of north central Iraq," officials said on Monday.
Another four service members were wounded during the mission, a U.S. official told ABC News on Monday.
The Pentagon identified the Marine Raiders on Tuesday as Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo of Simi Valley, California, and Capt. Moises A. Navas of Germantown, Maryland. Both were 34 years old and assigned to 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Enlisting in the Marine Corps in 2004, both men also completed multiple combat deployments. Pongo is survived by his daughter and parents. Navas is survived by wife, daughter, three sons, parents, and brother.
In a statement on Tuesday, Marine Raider Regiment Commanding Officer Col. John Lynch offered his sincere condolences to the Marines' families, saying they epitomized what it means to be a Marine Raider.
"They were intelligent, courageous, and loyal," Lynch said. "They were dedicated leaders, true professionals in their craft, and willing to go above and beyond for the mission and their team. They were not just leaders today, they were both on the path to be our organizations leaders in the future. They were also family men, adoring husbands and fathers."
The loss of Pongo and Navas marks the first U.S. troop combat deaths in Iraq this year.
In late December, an American contractor was killed in a rocket attack targeting a military base in northern Iraq. The Pentagon later identified an Iranian-backed militia group, Kata'ib Hizbollah, as responsible for the attack.
Marine Raider Gunnery Sergeant Scott Koppenhafer, 35, of Mancos, Colorado, was killed last August while advising Iraqi Security Forces on a planned mission in northern Ninevah province.
American troops have been training the Iraqi military in the fight against ISIS since 2015.
This report was featured in the Wednesday, March 11, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.
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