An 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper was killed on Tuesday during a vehicle rollover accident while conducting reconnaissance operations in Eastern Syria.
Sgt. Bryan Cooper Mount, 25, from St. George, Utah, was identified Thursday as the fallen paratrooper by his home unit.
Mount was assigned to 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The 82nd’s commander, Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, said in a Thursday statement that Mount “was a true American hero” who served honorably and gave his life defending his fellow citizens.
“Cooper was a three time volunteer on his second combat deployment and his loss will be deeply felt across our entire formation,” Donahue said. “He was a husband, son, brother and leader who was adored by everyone who knew him. Our sole focus now is providing unyielding support to Cooper’s family.”
Videos regularly emerge depicting U.S. and Russian forces jockeying over roadways in Syria, but there’s no indication that Mount’s death resulted from such an incident.
Operation Inherent Resolve deputy commander Air Force Maj. Gen. Kennedy P. Ekman said Wednesday that there haven’t been any “significant interactions” between U.S. and Russian personnel, even though “contact is actually very frequent.”
“We have no indications that any Russian activity existed at the location of the unfortunate loss, and then the rest we’re going to have to leave to the investigation,” Ekman told reporters concerning Mount’s death. “The Russians and coalition forces are out in some of the same spaces every day. Just as we conduct patrols, they conduct patrols.”
Inherent Resolve is the U.S. military’s named mission to defeat the Islamic State, which lost the final bits of its physical territory in March 2019.
Ekman framed ISIS remnants as a “low-level insurgency” hiding in “caves and mountains” during a press briefing on Wednesday.
“Where Daesh is, they struggle just to find sanctuary in rural locations,” Ekman said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS. “Their leadership, their finances, their media are just shadows of what they used to be.”
There have been four hostile deaths and five non-combat deaths under the Inherent Resolve mission this year. All of the combat deaths have been in Iraq.
An airman and a soldier were killed in mid-March during a rocket attack on Camp Taji. Prior to that, two Marine Raiders were killed in Iraq’s southern Makhmur Mountains while clearing a tunnel complex full of Islamic State fighters.
Nearly 150 U.S. service members have been wounded in action this year, as well. One Marine, 10 airmen and 138 soldiers have been wounded in combat in 2020, according to Pentagon data.
Most of the wounded in action this year appear to be from the Iranian ballistic missile attack that struck two Iraqi bases housing coalition troops on Jan. 8.
In 2019, there were three hostile deaths, nine non-combat deaths and only 12 troops wounded in action.
There are roughly 5,200 U.S. troops in Iraq, according to Ekman’s Wednesday briefing. He declined to discuss the number of troops in Syria, citing operational security concerns surrounding their limited footprint there.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.