In March of last year, the US military reported a British SAS soldier was killed alongside a U.S. soldier by an improvised explosive device blast in Manbij, Syria, but new information indicates this was a false report.
A new investigation reveals Master Sgt. Jonathan J. Dunbar of Austin, Texas, died with SAS soldier Sgt. Matt Tonroe from a friendly fire explosion.
33-year-old Tonroe, the first British combat death during the fight against ISIS, enlisted in the U.K. Army in 2004 and had deployed numerous times to Afghanistan and the Middle East, according to a statement from the Ministry of Defence. He served in the 3rd Battalion of Britain’s elite Parachute Regiment. While in Syria, he and embedded with SEAL Team 6.
Dunbar was assigned to U.S. Army Special Operations Command headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. That designation has historically been used for members of the Army’s secretive special operations unit known as Delta Force, according to Stars and Stripes.
“It was initially believed that Sgt Tonroe was killed by enemy action, however subsequent investigation concluded that Sgt Tonroe was killed by the accidental detonation of explosives carried by coalition forces. Our thoughts continue to be with Sgt Tonroe’s family and friends,” according to the Guardian.
Tonroe and Dunbar were on a mission to capture or kill high-value ISIS personnel when they died. Five other people were injured in the explosion.
The fatalities were the coalition’s first combat deaths of 2018, and occurred as President Donald Trump was considering a withdrawal of American troops from Syria.
Dunbar joined the Army as an infantryman in May 2005. Following training at Fort Benning, his first assignment was with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg. He served as a machine gunner, a fire team leader and a squad leader. In 2009, he moved to Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 38th Cavalry Regiment (long range surveillance) at Fort Hood, Texas, and served for four years as a squad leader. While assigned to Fort Bragg and Fort Hood, he deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a biography provided by the Army Special Operations Command.
In 2013, Dunbar was assigned to Special Operations Command and he had deployed three times in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to his biography.
His decorations include three Bronze Stars.
*This 2018 report by Stars and Stripes was updated by Popular Military to include the new information reported on July 29, 2019.
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