Three US soldiers have been reportedly abducted in Baghdad. US State Department spokesman John Kirby acknowledged the abduction, which reportedly took place on Friday, in a statement on Sunday.
“We are aware of reports that American citizens are missing in Iraq. We are working with the full cooperation of the Iraqi authorities to locate and recover the individuals,” he said. “We are aware of reports that American citizens are missing in Iraq. We are working with the full cooperation of the Iraqi authorities to locate and recover the individuals,” Kirby added. “The safety and security of American citizens overseas is our highest priority.”
Kirby did not provide any detail about the missing soldiers. Neither did he give details about the circumstances under which they had been kidnapped.
The search has started for the US soldiers, according to officials from Iraq and the United States. A police colonel in Iraq said government forces started an operation to find the missing soldiers. According to AFP, a translator has also gone missing along with the American soldiers.
While both Shiite paramilitaries and US forces are fighting the Islamic State in the Middle Eastern country, these two forces have been engaged in fighting each other since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
ISIS, meanwhile, does not have a prominent presence in the Iraqi capital even though the terrorist group managed to dominate a significant part of Iraq in 2014. Iran-backed Shiite militias, which follow Popular Mobilisation units, play a major role against ISIS in Iraq.
The US-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq got even stronger after an elite US Special Operations targeting force reached the country last week. US Defence Secretary Ashton B. Carter said on Wednesday that sending the force was a part of a broader effort to fight the militant organisation in 2016. He said that US Special Operational troops would be sent to Syria as well.
“Killing or capturing them wherever we find them,” Carter said while referring to militant commanders and fighters in Iraq.
The abduction of the US soldiers comes when ISIS militants have reportedly kidnapped 400 civilians in Syria. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militant organisation killed at least 135 people in multiple attacks which started on Saturday, The Guardian reported.