Five Italian military personnel were wounded, three seriously, when they were struck by an improvised explosive device in northern Iraq, the Italian defense ministry said on Sunday, November 10.
The IED struck a mixed special forces team who were “carrying out mentoring and training activities” with Iraqi Security Forces battling Islamic State, the ministry said in a statement.
Italian news agency ANSA reported that the special forces team was supporting Kurdish Peshmerga special forces.
U.S. Army Colonel Myles B. Caggins, the spokesperson for the U.S.-led Coalition against ISIS, told The Defense Post that “several Coalition members were wounded … while conducting a partnered counterterrorism mission in Iraq,” and that the incident is under investigation.
The five injured service members were quickly airlifted to hospital in U.S. helicopters, and although three were seriously hurt, their injuries were not life threatening, the ministry said.
Ansa reported that three of the injured were Navy personnel and two were from the Army. One had to have a leg partially amputated.
It is unclear where the incident occurred. The Italian defense ministry did not disclose a location, but a security source told AFP the attack happened in Makhmur, a town southwest of Kurdistan Region of Iraq capital Erbil. Other reports placed the incident near Kirkuk. ANSA reported that it took place in the Sulaymaniyah area, which is southeast of Erbil.
Bas News reported Iraq’s Security Media Cell as saying that a joint Coalition-Iraqi Security Forces operation targeting ISIS insurgents was conducted in Makhmur on Sunday.
AP reported Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini as saying the special forces team was returning to base after a counter-ISIS mission, and that ISF personnel were also injured.
Caggins did not confirm that ISF personnel were injured, noting Coalition policy to “defer information about casualties to the relevant national authorities.”
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had been informed and the prosecutor’s office in Rome said it had opened an investigation into “terrorist attacks.”
With reporting from AFP. This post was updated on November 11.