US military loses two soldiers in Afghanistan

KABUL: The US military said two of its service members were killed on Wednesday in Afghanistan.

The deaths occurred a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the Afghan capital of Kabul, where he said Washington was hopeful of a peace deal before Sept 1.

At a news conference in New Delhi, Pompeo said he was aware of the two deaths. He offered his condolences.

“I’m praying for them, for their families, and for all the soldiers that were around them,” Pompeo said. “I think this drives home the need for us to be successful, right. The mission set that we’ve undertaken in Afghanistan is a reconciliation to reduce the level of violence, to reduce the level of risk to Afghans, broadly, and the risk to American service members.”

In announcing the deaths, the US-led military coalition in Kabul said only that they had been killed, with no explanation. Later, a US official said the two died of gunshot wounds sustained during combat while on a joint patrol with Afghan forces.

More than 2,400 US service personnel have died in Afghanistan since the US-led coalition invaded in October 2001 to oust the Taliban and hunt down Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden following the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Efforts to find a peaceful end to Afghanistan’s protracted war accelerated last year with the appointment of US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who will begin a fresh round of direct talks with the Taliban on Saturday in the Middle Eastern state of Qatar, where the insurgents maintain a political office.

 

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