Pentagon IDs soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Pentagon IDs soldiers killed in Afghanistan
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The Pentagon has identified the two soldiers killed in combat in Afghanistan this week.

Master Sgt. Micheal B. Riley, 32, of Heilbronn, Germany, and Sgt. James G. Johnston, 24, of Trumansburg, N.Y., were killed Tuesday in Uruzgan province by “small arms fire while engaged in combat operations,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

“The incident is under investigation,” the statement added.

Riley, a Special Forces communications sergeant, was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Fort Carson, Colo.

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"It is with a heavy heart that we learn of the passing of Master Sgt. Michael Riley in Afghanistan," commander of the 10th Special Forces Group Col. Lawrence Ferguson said in a statement. "Mike was an experienced Special Forces noncommissioned officer and the veteran of five previous deployments to Afghanistan. We will honor his service and sacrifice as we remain steadfast in our commitment to our mission."

Johnston was assigned to 79th Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), 71st Ordnance Group in Fort Hood, Texas.

The Taliban claimed responsibility Wednesday for an ambush it said killed U.S. troops, but said the attack happened in Wardak province.

The deaths, the eighth and ninth U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan this year, happened hours after Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump threat lacks teeth to block impeachment witnesses Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs MORE’s Tuesday visit to Afghanistan.

While there, Pompeo touted progress in negotiations with the Taliban to end the 18-year war.

“We have made real progress and are nearly ready to conclude a draft text outlining the Taliban’s commitments to join fellow Afghans in ensuring that Afghan soil never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists,” Pompeo said.

“In light of this progress, we’ve begun discussions with the Taliban regarding foreign military presence, which today remains conditions-based," he continued. "And while we’ve made clear to the Taliban that we are prepared to remove our forces, I want to be clear we have not yet agreed on a timeline to do so.”