Two US service members have been killed and an additional four were wounded while assisting Afghan security forces in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The names of the service members have not been released yet, pending the notification of their families. The group was reportedly engaged in heavy fighting with the Taliban. Four Afghan special forces soldiers were also reportedly killed in the fight.
Air strikes were called in to support the operation and protect the troops. There are reports that the air strikes caused heavy civilian casualties and the claims are currently being investigated.
In a separate statement, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission confirmed that air strikes had been carried out in Kunduz to defend “friendly forces under fire”.
“All civilian casualty claims will be investigated,” it said.
In a statement, the Taliban said American forces were involved in a raid to capture three militant fighters when they came under heavy fire. An air strike hit the village where the fighting was taking place, killing many civilians.- Reuters
The governor of Kunduz, Asadullah Omarkhel, said 30 civilians were killed and 46 were wounded in airstrikes, which he attributed to Afghan forces, and he also said four Afghan Special Forces soldiers were killed. Local residents and other officials in Kunduz district, which includes the city of Kunduz and its outlying areas, attributed the airstrikes to the American military.- New York Times
Gen. John W. Nicholson released a statement following the operation.
“Today’s loss is heartbreaking and we offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of our service members who lost their lives today,” said Gen. John W. Nicholson, the U.S. commander in the country. “Despite today’s tragic event, we are steadfast in our commitment to help our Afghan partners defend their nation.”- NBC News
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter released this statement this afternoon:
I was deeply saddened to learn overnight that we suffered casualties in Afghanistan. The two service members killed and the four who suffered injuries were with Afghan forces as part of our train, advise and assist mission. Some of our Afghan partners also died. Our service members were doing their part to help the Afghans secure their own country while protecting our homeland from those who would do us harm. On this difficult day, please keep their families, friends and teammates in your thoughts and prayers. We will honor their sacrifice by finishing our important mission in Afghanistan. – DoD Press Release
More information to follow.
Image courtesy of Getty/AFP