US service members killed in firefight with ISIS in Afghanistan

US service members killed in firefight with ISIS in Afghanistan

US service members killed in firefight with ISIS in Afghanistan

The troops conducted the raid Wednesday night against the group known as ISIS-Khorosan (ISIS-K), according to a U.S. military statement released on Thursday.

Earlier this month, the American military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on Islamic State group hideouts in eastern Afghanistan, killing almost a hundred militants, according to unverified figures from Afghan officials.

Current and former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Trump administration is carrying out an inter-agency review, and while no decision has been made, the discussions revolve around adding 3,000 to 5,000 troops.

Their identities, service, and unit affiliations are being withheld pending next of kin notification.

Neither President Donald Trump, nor Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has commented publicly on the reported advisement to Congress by Gen. John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan.

"On behalf of all U.S. Forces and our coalition partners, I offer our deepest sympathies to the families, friends, and fellow service members of our fallen comrades", he said. The US has had a continuous military presence in the country since 2001, making it the longest US war.

As Bowman told NPR's All Things Considered at the time, "There are now some 8,500 Americans in Afghanistan, and they have two jobs - training the Afghan forces and also going on combat missions with Afghan commandos, fighting ISIS and al-Qaida".

Faced with those challenges, the Trump administration is reevaluating its strategy for Afghanistan and considering sending additional US troops to support local forces.

Some U.S. officials question the benefit of sending more troops to Afghanistan.

It was nearly 16 years after the United States invaded Afghanistan that it made a decision to use its so-called Mother of All Bombs (MOAB), its biggest non-nuclear device, against an IS tunnel network.

Both threats have posed challenges this month.

The assault last Friday, in which militants dressed in Afghan army uniforms and with valid passes to the installation slaughtered at least 135 young recruits, is believed to be the deadliest by the Taliban on an Afghan military target.

It was the first time the USA military's GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, dubbed the "Mother of All Bombs" had been used in combat.

Record numbers of civilians are fleeing areas where fighting is heaviest, straining meagre resources as hundreds of thousands of refugees also returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan a year ago. Rather than join the terror group, wannabe insurgents instead are joining other local groups, the general said.

This year's offensive was named Operation Mansouri after the Taliban leader killed last year in a USA drone strike.

Another fact to consider in all of this is that Pakistan remains committed to providing financial and logistical support to the Taliban with the aim of making sure its eastern neighbour, India, does not succeed in turning Afghanistan into a permanent base against Pakistan.

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