Defense

US combat deaths in Afghanistan highest in years

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Military personnel bring in the presumed remains of US soldiers in 55 caskets draped with American flags into Hanger 19 Joint base Pearl Harbor Hickam on August 1, 2018 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Vice President Mike Pence attended the repatriation ceremony for the remains of possible Korean war soldiers.

Seventeen service members died in Afghanistan in 2019, the highest number since 2015, according to a year-end tally compiled by the Department of Defense and reported by Army Times.

Fourteen of the fallen service members were from the Army, while three were Marines.

The soldiers killed included eight Green Berets, an Army Ranger and three paratroopers.

Last year’s list of fatalities caused by hostile action surpassed the death tolls of 2018, when 13 service members died, and 2017, when 11 died.

In 2016 and 2015, the number of military fatalities resulting from hostile action was nine and 10, respectively.

Peace talks between the United States and the Taliban came to a halt in September when President Trump canceled a planned meeting with Taliban and Afghan leaders.

The president had considered decreasing U.S. troop levels in the country to 8,600.

NBC News reported in August that Trump told advisers that he wanted to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by November 2020. He has also threatened to close the U.S. embassy in Kabul, complaining that it is too large and expensive.

Troop levels in Afghanistan have been a source of tension between Trump and Senate Republicans for months, with GOP lawmakers repeatedly warning Trump not to pull soldiers out of the region while the Taliban remains a threat.

The Senate a year ago passed a resolution authored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that warned “the precipitous withdrawal” of U.S. forces from Syria or Afghanistan “could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security.” 

Tags Donald Trump Mitch McConnell

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