WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Defense Secretary Ash Carter offered condolences Friday to the family of a U.S. soldier killed in northern Syria on Thanksgiving.
The soldier was killed by an explosive device while patrolling near the town of Ayn Issa on Thursday.
"I am deeply saddened by the news on this Thanksgiving Day that one of our brave service members has been killed in Syria while protecting us from the evil of ISIL," Carter said in a statement Friday. "It is a painful reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face around the world to keep us safe."
The soldier was not identified but was participating in Operation Inherent Resolve, the Pentagon's major combat operation against the Islamic State terror group in Syria and Iraq.
"Please keep this service member's family, friends and teammates in your thoughts and prayers, and this Thanksgiving I hope you will join me in expressing thanks to all of our dedicated troops who selflessly protect us every day," Carter added.
"The entire counter-ISIL coalition sends our condolences to this hero's family, friends and teammates," Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve, said. "On this Thanksgiving, please be thankful that there are service members willing to take up the fight to protect our homeland from ISIL's hateful and brutal ideology."
About a dozen U.S. service members have died while participating in Inherent Resolve, which began in Iraq in June 2014 and Syria three months later.