Five U.S. special operations troops were wounded in combat with Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan, the senior U.S. commander in the country said Thursday.
It appeared to be the first reported instance of U.S. troops being wounded in fighting against the Islamic State in Afghanistan. U.S. military spokesmen in Kabul said they were researching the question of whether there have been previous casualties in combat with IS, which is present mainly in the country’s eastern regions. IS bases in the eastern province of Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan, are currently being targeted by an Afghan military offensive, backed by U.S. troops
The Afghan offensive began on Saturday, hours after the IS group claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack in the capital Kabul that killed around 80 people.
Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the five wounded Americans were hit by small arms fire or shrapnel during a combat operation conducted with Afghan special operations forces to clear areas once controlled by the Islamic State in Nangarhar.
He did not say exactly when the injuries happened. The Pentagon later issued what it called a clarification, saying one of the five was wounded on Sunday and the other four on Monday.
“There was not one incident or specific firefight, but these service members were wounded over the course of the clearing operations General Nicholson described,” a Pentagon spokesman, Adam Stump, said in a statement. “As General Nicholson indicated, we’re not able to discuss further specifics at this point of the counterterrorism operation.”
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