Iraq raid signifies stepped-up effort against ISIS

When Army Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler died Thursday in combat in Iraq, the Obama administration took great pains to prove the U.S. was not involved in combat in Iraq.

One of the key features of President Obama's approach toward the Islamic State is his insistence that U.S. forces would not be involved in ground combat, except for occasional special operations raids. This has popularly been known as the "no boots on the ground" policy even though U.S. advisers are in fact on the ground in Iraq.

The 39-year-old special operations soldier from Roland, Oklahoma, was on one such raid. Though officials insist his death, the first combat casualty in Iraq since U.S. combat troops were withdrawn at the end of 2011, does not signify a change in that policy, Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Friday said more such raids would be conducted and more casualties could be expected.

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"It doesn't represent us assuming a combat role. It represents a continuation of our advise-and-assist mission," Carter told reporters at the Pentagon, adding that U.S. forces "will be in harm's way. There's no question about it and I don't want anybody to be under any illusions about this."

He also said U.S. aircraft also would more aggressively go after the Islamic State's ability to sell oil, after a successful attack Wednesday on a production facility and a cash collection station in eastern Syria.

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