US soldier killed by 'indirect fire' in Afghanistan

US soldier killed by 'indirect fire' in Afghanistan
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A U.S. soldier was killed by “indirect fire” in Afghanistan on Monday, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

The soldier was identified as Pfc. Hansen B. Kirkpatrick, 19, of Wasilla, Ala. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

Kirkpatrick was killed in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department. Helmand is among the fiercest centers of Afghan forces’ fight against the Taliban.

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No other details of the attack were released. The Pentagon said the incident is under investigation.

Indirect fire typically refers to attacks with shells launched from a mortar.

Kirkpatrick is the seventh U.S. combat death in Afghanistan this year. The other six came in missions against the Afghan branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Nangarhar province.

In June, Sgt. Eric M. Houck, Sgt. William M. Bays and Cpl. Dillon C. Baldridge were killed in an insider attack during a mission against ISIS. In April, Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar was killed during a firefight with enemy forces, and Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers and Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas were killed in what’s suspected to have been a friendly fire incident.

The United States has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan on a dual mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan troops in their fight against the Taliban and conducting counterterrorism missions against groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda.

Defense Secretary James Mattis has promised to deliver Congress a new strategy for the 16-year-old war by mid-July. The strategy is expected to include a plan to send a few thousand more U.S. troops to the country.

A bipartisan delegation led by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE (R-Ariz.) was in Afghanistan over the Fourth of July holiday, where he again lamented that that United States still does not have a strategy for winning.

“The strongest nation on Earth should be able to win this conflict,” McCain told reporters. “And we are frustrated that this strategy hadn’t been articulated yet, to be honest with you.”