An American sailor killed in northern Syria on Thanksgiving from wounds suffered in a improvised explosive device blast has been identified as an explosives specialist from Virginia.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton, 42, of Woodbridge, Virginia, became the first U.S. service member killed in Syria, NBC News reported. The explosion took place in the vicinity of Ayn Issa.
He was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve and was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two, which is based in Virginia Beach, the Defense Department said on Friday.
"We offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott Dayton, who made the ultimate sacrifice on a day we set aside time to give thanks for our freedom and to recognize the men and women who defend that right," said Rear Adm. Brian Brakke, commander with the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter earlier said Thursday that he was "deeply saddened by the news on this Thanksgiving Day that one of our brave servicemembers has been killed in Syria while protecting us from the evil of ISIL. It is a painful reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face around the world to keep us safe.
"Please keep this servicemember'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 everyday."
Dayton joined the Navy on Feb. 17, 1993, and received 19 awards during his service including the Bronze Star.
U.S. troops are part of a multination effort to fight the Islamic State group in the region.
Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve, extended condolences to the victim's family.
"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," Townsend said.