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Contractor whose death Trump cited was a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iraq

Nawres Hamid, a contractor killed in Iraq, was a naturalized U.S. citizen who served as an Arabic interpreter for U.S. forces. (Family photo)

An American defense contractor whose death late last month was cited by President Trump amid escalating violence with Iran was identified Tuesday as an interpreter who was born in Iraq and lived in Sacramento.

Nawres Hamid, 33, became a naturalized citizen in 2017, according to his widow. He was the father of two boys, ages 2 and 8, she said.

In recent years, as an Arabic interpreter for U.S. forces in Iraq, Hamid was known to decorate his living space with pictures of the children, according to a co-worker.

Hamid was killed on Dec. 27 when U.S. authorities say an Iranian-backed militia fired rockets at a military base near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

The attack, which injured several coalition troops, prompted Trump to order missile strikes against Iraqi militias. That in turn led to a New Year’s Eve assault on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and a retaliatory strike by the United States that killed Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian military commander.

Hamid’s death has been a rallying cry for Trump. In a tweet on Dec. 31, Trump wrote: “Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!”

Hamid’s body was returned to the United States and buried Saturday in Sacramento, his widow, Noor Alkhalili, said in a text-message exchange with The Washington Post on Tuesday.

The Sacramento Bee first reported that Hamid had been buried at the Greater Sacramento Muslim Cemetery and that his employer, Virginia-based Valiant Integrated Services, had paid for the funeral.

In a brief statement posted on its website on Tuesday, the company called Hamid a “consummate professional and highly committed member of the Valiant team who was cherished and valued by his colleagues.”

Rep. Doris Matsui of California, a Democrat who represents the Sacramento area, said in a statement: “Our U.S. military has relied on the expertise and professionalism of linguists in almost every mission around the globe, especially in Iraq. Nawres served and sacrificed for our nation, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude. My thoughts and prayers are with Nawres’ widow and children at this time.”

Aaron Gregg, Paul Sonne, Shawn Boburg, Dalton Bennett, Alice Crites and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

U.S. conflict with Iran: What you need to read

Here’s what you need to know to understand what this moment means in U.S.-Iran relations.

What happened: President Trump ordered a drone strike near the Baghdad airport, killing Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful military commander and leader of its special-operations forces abroad.

Who was Soleimani: As the leader of the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, Soleimani was key in supporting and coordinating with Iran’s allies across the region, especially in Iraq. Soleimani’s influence was imprinted on various Shiite militias that fought U.S. troops.

How we got here: Tensions had been escalating between Iran and the United States since Trump pulled out of an Obama-era nuclear deal, and they spiked shortly before the airstrike. The strikes that killed Soleimani were carried out after the death of a U.S. contractor in a rocket attack against a military base in Kirkuk, Iraq, that the United States blamed on Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia.

What happens next: Iran responded to Soleimani’s death by launching missile strikes at two bases hosting U.S. forces in Iraq. No casualties were reported. In an address to the nation, Trump announced that new sanctions will be imposed on Tehran.

Ask a question: What do you want to know about the strike and its aftermath? Submit a question or read previous Q&As with Post reporters.