U.S. Soldier Killed Fighting the Islamic State in Afghanistan

(The Washington Post) -
U.S. Soldier, Killed, Islamic State, Afghanistan
Soldiers from the 27th Engineering Battalion serving as pall bearers place the coffin of a U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010. (AP Photo/Robert E. Klein, File)

A U.S. soldier was killed fighting the Islamic State offshoot in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Twitter on Saturday.

The soldier was mortally wounded during an operation in the eastern province of Nangahar late Saturday night, said Navy Capt. Bill Salvin, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Salvin said in the tweet that more information would be released “as appropriate.” It is common for the name of the deceased to be withheld for a day while immediate family is notified.

U.S. and Afghan forces have been fighting the Islamic State in Afghanistan’s restive east since 2015. Soldiers from elite Ranger battalions as well as Green Berets have conducted multiple large-scale operations to push the militants out of the country, while airstrikes have targeted the group’s leadership.

The Taliban, the insurgent group that has fought the United States and the Afghan government since 2001, has also routinely clashed with the Islamic State.

On Thursday, Salvin told the Associated Press that the Islamic State in Afghanistan had lost more than two-thirds of its territory and had 800 fighters spread between two provinces. Salvin added that since the start of 2017, the Pentagon had carried out more than 450 strikes against the Islamic State in Afghanistan and killed more than 200 militants. In December, the spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, said that Islamic State forces in the country had been reduced from 3,000 to 1,000.

The incident marks the first combat death in Afghanistan for 2017. Last month, three Special Operations soldiers were wounded during an apparent insider attack in Helmand Province, and 2016 saw the death of 10 U.S. service members by hostile fire and bomb attacks, both by the Taliban and the Islamic State. More than 1,800 U.S. troops have died in combat in Afghanistan since 2001, according to Pentagon statistics.

There are 8,500 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan, split between supporting the Afghan military and conducting counterterrorism operations. U.S. military officials have classified the conflict as a stalemate and requested thousands more troops to provide more help to the fledgling Afghan military.