Two U.S. special forces operators were killed overnight Wednesday during an operation against ISIS in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Thursday. A third soldier sustained minor injuries during the same raid.
“This is the third incident in which US soldiers have died while fighting in Afghanistan this year,” notes The Independent.
The raid specifically targeted ISIS-Khorasan, the Islamic State’s active branch operating along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Joined by Afghan forces, U.S. personnel were operating in the southern portion Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, the same region where the U.S. dropped the MOAB, or “mother of all bombs” on ISIS tunnel complexes on April 13.
The Pentagon did not release any further details about the U.S. servicemen killed or the nature of the raid.
The deaths come just days after Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ visit to Afghanistan. Mattis’ trip was organized to reassert America’s commitment to the Afghan army as they shed life and limb to battle ISIS as well as an increasingly aggressive Taliban insurgency.
Mattis’ trip coincided with an intense period of mourning in Kabul: the Afghan army had just experienced one of the deadliest attacks against its troops in years. The Washington Examiner reports:
Over 200 Afghan soldiers were killed during a complex attack on a key military headquarters in the country’s north on Friday, The Taliban attack on the headquarters for the Afghan army’s 209th Shaheen corps in Balkh province was the single largest loss of life suffered by the country’s security forces since 2001. Also on Monday, a police official said at least four security guards were killed when a suicide bomber attacked their checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani forced Defense Minister Abdullah Habibi and Army Chief of Staff Qadam Shah Shahim to resign by in the aftermath of Friday’s attack.
Afghanistan is currently America’s longest-running active war. U.S. troops have had some sort of presence in Afghanistan for 16 years.
And yet, the war is far from over.
Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, just confirmed that Russia is supplying the Taliban with weaponry, an ironic inversion of historical precedent given America’s covert support for the Afghan mujahedeen fighting Soviet occupying forces in the late 1980s.