U.S.: 2 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan
Kabul, Afghanistan – Two American service members were killed during an operation in Afghanistan on Friday, the U.S. and NATO forces said, providing no other details on the combat deaths.
The fatalities, which bring to four the number of U.S. soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, underscore the difficulties in bringing peace to the war-wrecked country even as Washington has stepped up efforts to find a way to end the 17-year war, America’s longest.
The U.S. and NATO Resolute Support mission said the names of the service members killed in action were being withheld until after notification of the next of kin, in accordance with U.S. Department of Defense policy. The statement also did not specify the location of the combat or say who the soldiers were fighting.
“The incident is under investigation and we have no additional information to provide,” said Sgt. 1st Class Debra Richardson, a Resolute Support spokeswoman.
A Taliban statement later in the day said insurgents engaged in heavy fighting with Afghan and U.S. forces overnight in the northern city of Kunduz. Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, said the fighting was still underway Friday; he claimed the insurgents had killed as many as three Americans and nine Afghan commandos.
The insurgents often exaggerate their battlefield claims and it was impossible to confirm whether the fighting Mujahid was referring to was the same combat in which the two U.S. service members were killed.
An Afghan lawmaker from Kunduz province, Abdul Wodood Payman, said there was heavy fighting overnight in the Kunduz neighborhood of Taluka, where jet fighters roared overhead and bombings could be heard. He had no additional information.
There are about 14,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan, supporting embattled Afghan forces as they struggle on two fronts – facing a resurgent Taliban who now hold sway over almost half the country and also the Islamic State affiliate, which has sought to expand its footprint in Afghanistan even as its self-proclaimed “caliphate” has crumbled in Syria and Iraq.
The Pentagon has recently been developing plans to withdraw up to half of the American forces still in the country while at the same time stepping up efforts and having the U.S. negotiate with the Taliban.