Two United States service members were killed during a joint operation with Afghan forces in northern Afghanistan on Friday, bringing to four the American combat deaths in Afghanistan so far this year, Afghan and American officials said.
A spokeswoman for the American-led NATO mission in Afghanistan confirmed the two deaths in a brief statement, but it did not release any details of the attack.
“The incident is under investigation and we have no additional information to provide,” said the spokeswoman, Sgt. 1st Class Debra Richardson.
Qayum Nuristani, a spokesman for the Afghan special forces, said that the operation was in northern Kunduz Province. One Afghan commando was killed and three others were wounded, he said, adding that many Taliban had also been killed in the fighting.
Amruddin Wali, a member of provincial council in Kunduz, said that the Afghan and American forces were conducting a military operation against the Taliban in Gul Tepa District.
“Both Afghan and U.S. forces suffered casualties in the operation,” he said, without providing an exact figure. “The district is completely in the Taliban control.”
In 2018, 13 American troops were killed in combat in Afghanistan, up from 11 in 2017. Two American soldiers were killed in separate attacks in Uruzgan and Badghis Provinces in January.
There are roughly 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan. In December 2018, the Trump administration ordered the military to begin plans to withdraw about 7,000 American troops from the country in coming months. But the drawdown has not yet started, and military officials have been unable to clarify how many troops will leave the country, or by when.
After the latest talks between United States and Taliban officials in Qatar, Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief American peace envoy, said the two sides had reached a draft agreement on two of four elements necessary for a settlement: assurances that Afghanistan would not become a haven for terrorism, and a timeline for an American military withdrawal.