US service member dies in Syria

The United States-led coalition says an American service member died of “natural causes” in Northern Syria Wednesday.

The statement did not give any more information. The name of the service member is being withheld pending next of kin notification. Typically, the Pentagon releases the name of a fallen service member 24 hours following the notification.

There are roughly 1,000 American special operations forces, Marines and Army Rangers in Northern Syria today, helping train and support a local force for the eventual ground assault on the ISIS defacto capital of Raqqa.

Last week, U.S. helicopters airlifted hundreds of Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters 30 miles west of Raqqa in the ISIS-held town of Tabqa, where a strategic dam and airfield are located.

Tuesday, the top U.S. commander of the coalition in Baghdad, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, told Pentagon reporters the Tabqa airfield had been seized by the US-backed Syrian force.

A U.S. Marine artillery battery outside Raqqa has been supporting the operation in Tabqa with artillery fire.

Today at 10 am the head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joe Votel (“VO-tell”), will testify before the House Armed Services Committee to discuss the ongoing ISIS fight in Iraq and Syria.

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews