U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan 'likely accidentally shot'

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan 'likely accidentally shot'
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The U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan on Saturday was “likely accidentally shot” by NATO’s Afghan partner force, according to a statement from the alliance’s Resolute Support mission.

Army Sgt. Leandro Jasso, 25, from Washington state, was killed Nov. 24 in Afghanistan's Nimroz province — in the southwestern part of the country — while conducting an operation to eliminate al Qaeda militants, the statement notes.

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“An initial review indicates Sgt. Jasso was likely accidentally shot by our Afghan partner force. There are no indications he was shot intentionally.”

The partner force, Afghan Security Forces, work in conjunction with the U.S. and NATO troops.

The statement adds that early interviews “indicate the tragic accident occurred when the partnered force became engaged in a close-quarter battle during an assault on one of multiple barricaded al Qaeda shooters.”

Gen. Scott Miller, the new head of Resolute Support and U.S. Forces, Afghanistan, said Jasso “was killed defending our nation, fighting al Qaeda alongside our Afghan partners."

"All of us, and throughout our coalition of 41 nations, recognize the threats posed by groups such as al Qaeda and [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] and are determined to fight them here,” Miller added.

The U.S. combat death toll in Afghanistan this year is now 11, including three service members killed on Tuesday when an improvised explosive device exploded near the city of Ghazni.

More than 2,400 U.S. forces have died in the conflict — the United States’s longest-running war — now in its 17th year.

The number of Afghan forces killed is even higher. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani recently said 28,000 Afghan forces have been killed in the past four years, with 1,000 killed or injured this past August and September.

Roughly 14,000 U.S. service members are based in Afghanistan to predominantly assist Afghan security forces against Taliban and ISIS-aligned militants in the region.

The troops are there as part of President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE’s strategy for the war, announced last summer.

His plan included sending thousands more troops to the country and taking away a timeline for withdrawal in hopes of convincing the Taliban it cannot win on the battlefield and so must negotiate peace.

The Taliban, however, has been slow to come to the table. Last week the group rejected a peace deal from the U.S., which would set an April 2019 deadline to end the war.