Two U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan, according to a statement released by U.S. military officials Friday morning.
The New York Times has reported that the troops were killed while conducting a joint operation with Afghan security forces in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan. An Afghan commando was also reportedly killed during the operation. According to the Military Times, the operation was taking place in Gul Tepa District, an area that is almost completely controlled by the Taliban.
Routinely, the Pentagon does not release the names of U.S. troops killed in action until 24 hours after the next of kin have been notified, per Pentagon policy.
The deaths bring the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan so far in 2019 to four. Two soldiers were killed in January: Army Ranger Sgt. Cameron Meddock and Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Joshua “Zach” Beale.
Thirteen U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan in 2018 and eleven were killed in 2017. There are currently around 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Their primary focus is on training and advising Afghan security forces to battle the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and ISIS-affiliated fighters.
President Donald Trump has pushed for peace talks with the Taliban for the past several months and has spoken about his desire to end the conflict and remove U.S. troops from the country. In December, President Trump ordered the Pentagon to begin planning for the withdrawal of at least half the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The number of Americans in Afghanistan has not dropped yet. A team of American diplomats has been meeting with Taliban officials in Qatar over the past several months to negotiate an end to the fighting.