American and Afghan military personnel were fired on while conducting an operation in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, the U.S. military said Saturday, and one official said there were U.S. casualties.
Several U.S. personnel were either injured or killed, but the exact number and other details were not provided, said the U.S. official, who agreed to discuss the incident only on condition of anonymity.
A U.S. military spokesman, Col. Sonny Leggett, said in a statement that both Afghan and U.S. personnel were "engaged by direct firing."
“We are assessing the situation," Leggett said, without providing any information on possible casualties or other details.
In a statement released late Saturday evening, the Army's 7th Special Forces Group confirmed it had taken casualties.
“Several 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Soldiers were injured or killed during combat operations in Afghanistan on February 8, 2020. The 7th Special Forces Group Headquarters is poised to support the Service Members and their families during this difficult time,” Col. John W. Sannes, 7th Special Forces Group Commander, said. “The families of the deceased and wounded are being notified. In accordance with DoD policy, the names of the causalities are being withheld until 24 hours after their next of kin notification is complete.”
The New York Times reported that Afghan officials said "five or six" Americans were killed, and about the same number of Afghan soldiers. A U.S. official confirmed to the Times that there were fatalities but would not say how many.
The Taliban and the Islamic State group affiliate both operate in eastern Nangarhar province. The incident comes as Washington seeks to find an end to Afghanistan's 18-year war, America's longest.
Washington's peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been meeting with Taliban representatives in the Middle Eastern state of Qatar in recent weeks. He's seeking an agreement to reduce hostilities to get a peace deal signed that would start negotiations among Afghans on both sides of the conflict.
In his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, President Donald Trump referenced the peace talks, saying U.S. soldiers were not meant to serve as “law enforcement agencies” for other nations.
“In Afghanistan, the determination and valor of our war fighters has allowed us to make tremendous progress, and peace talks are now underway, " he said.
-- Hope Hodge Seck contributed.
Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.
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