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Two U.S. Marines, including one from Maryland, killed in Iraq during mission to eliminate Islamic State stronghold

Two United States marines, including one from Maryland, were killed over the weekend in Iraq during a mission to eliminate a stronghold for the Islamic State, the agency said.

The U.S. Department of Defense identified Capt. Moises A. Navas, 34, as the Marylander from Germantown who was killed. Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo, 34, of Simi Valley, California, also died. Both men were members of a Marine special forces unit based in North Carolina.

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A military news release said the two were killed by “enemy forces” while assisting Iraqi security forces on a mission in a mountainous area of north-central Iraq on Sunday.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a tweet he was deeply saddened to learn about Navas’ death. The Republican governor said Navas was a Purple Heart recipient.

“Captain Navas was one of our true heroes and perfectly embodied the mission of the United States Marine Corps,” Hogan tweeted.

The governor’s office said in a tweet that when Navas is buried, the American and state flags will be lowered after the protocol.

A senior Iraqi official, speaking from Baghdad, said a joint mission between Iraq’s counterterrorism forces and U.S.-led coalition forces south of Makhmour in northern Iraq came under attack from IS militants. During the fighting, two U.S. service members were killed. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said there was also air support from the U.S.-led coalition.

The U.S. maintains some 5,200 troops in Iraq on a mission to assist and provide training to Iraqi security forces in the fight against the Islamic State group.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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