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US says 4 soldiers wounded in Afghan attack that killed 2 US troops

By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 3, 2017

An attack on a NATO convoy on Wednesday that killed two U.S. servicemembers in Afghanistan also wounded four U.S. soldiers, military officials said Thursday.

The four wounded soldiers were receiving treatment at a coalition medical facility Thursday morning, NATO’s Resolute Support mission said in a statement. Their wounds were not considered life threatening.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened outside a base near the southern city of Kandahar.

The Taliban said a suicide bomber detonated a bomb-laden pickup truck near the military convoy as it was returning to Kandahar Air Field, following a meeting at the provincial governor’s residence. The group, which often embellishes its claims, said it killed 15 foreign troops, including two generals, and destroyed two armored vehicles.

The Pentagon on Wednesday confirmed the deaths of two Americans killed during the attack. The two servicemembers have not been identified.

"I offer our deepest condolences to the families of our fallen comrades," Gen. John Nicholson, Resolute Support commander, said in the statement. The soldiers “gave their lives in service of a mission that is critically important to the United States, our allies and partners.”

Wednesday’s deaths bring to nine the number of U.S. fatalities in the country this year — all of them soldiers. Most of those deaths occurred in eastern Afghanistan, where the U.S. military is assisting Afghan forces against an Islamic State affiliate that has carried out multiple high-profile attacks in the country.

The U.S. has sustained more than 1,800 combat deaths in Afghanistan since it led the 2001 invasion, as well as nearly 400 noncombat deaths. Annual combat fatalities have dropped sharply from a peak of 440 in 2010, according to iCasualties.org, a website that tracks coalition deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The NATO mission in Afghanistan currently consists of about 13,500 troops from 39 partner countries, compared to almost 120,000 from 47 countries in 2010. Nearly 7,000 U.S. troops are now deployed in support of that mission, mainly to train and advise their Afghan counterparts. Some 1,500 more are taking part in a separate counterterrorism mission in the country.

For months, the Trump administration has been mulling its strategy in Afghanistan, as well as a decision about whether to send another 4,000 troops to stem Taliban gains. Nicholson had requested the additional troops for help with training, advising and assisting the Afghan security forces.

In his statement about the latest U.S. deaths in Afghanistan, Nicholson said Resolute Support “will honor their sacrifice with our dedication to protect our homeland and complete the mission for which they sacrificed."

garland.chad@stripes.com
Twitter: @chadgarland

 

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