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US Commander: Five US Troops Injured in Afghanistan

FILE - An Afghan soldier keeps watch during clashes with Islamic State (IS) militants in Kot district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, 26 June 2016.

Five U.S. special operations troops in Afghanistan have been wounded in combat with Islamic State fighters, according to the top U.S. commander in the country.

General John Nicholson, top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told reporters Thursday that the troops were hit by small arms fire or shrapnel during an operation in Nangarhar, where Afghan forces have been working to push back the IS fighters.

Nicholson said three of the soldiers have been evacuated and the other two have returned to duty. Injuries to U.S. troops in the current operation in Afghanistan are rare. Until recently, U.S. forces have mainly provided ground support to Afghan troops.

Afghan troops intensified their fight against IS after two attacks in Kabul recently that killed at least 80 people.

Nicholson said IS fighters are now "retreating into the mountains of southern Nangarhar." He said the number of IS fighters in the area has dropped from 3,000 in January to no more than 1,500 fighters today. Nicholson vowed that the force will continue opposing IS in Afghanistan until the militants are defeated.