One US, one Romanian service member killed in combat in Afghanistan

One US, one Romanian service member killed in combat in Afghanistan
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A U.S. service member and a Romanian soldier were killed in combat Thursday in Afghanistan, according to the NATO-led mission in the country.

The news release from Operation Resolute Support provided no details of the incident, noting only that both “were killed in action” in Kabul.

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The identity of the U.S. service member is being withheld until 24 hours after next of kin is notified, in line with Defense Department policy.

The death came as the Taliban claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed 10 and injured an additional 40 near Kabul — days after the U.S. and the Taliban met for a ninth round of peace negotiations in Qatar.

The U.S. service member death brings this year’s total number of U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan to 16. The death rate hit a five-year high earlier this month after two service members were killed by small-arms fire.

The death rate has been far higher for Afghan forces in 2019, numbering in the hundreds.

The U.S. currently has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, officially, working in two missions: to train, advise and assist Afghan troops in their fight against the Taliban and to conduct counterterrorism operations against groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda.

The Trump administration has been touting a draft deal with the Taliban that would see nearly 5,000 troops withdraw from five bases in exchange for Taliban assurances that it will not allow terrorists to launch attacks against the United States from Afghanistan. Recent events, however, have heightened doubts that such an agreement will work.

Any deal would require approval from President Trump before being finalized, though Trump since his presidential campaign has been eager to pull troops from the country.

The Afghan government has not been included in peace talks with the Taliban, with intra-Afghan talks to follow any deal between Washington and the Taliban, but there are already disputes over negotiations.

“The Afghan government is also concerned and we, therefore, would like further clarity on this document to completely analyze its dangers and negative consequences and avoid the dangers,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman said on Wednesday.