ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - An American soldier died as a result of wounds sustained during operations in the southern Afghan province of Helmand Tuesday while another was wounded, the U.S. military said.
It said in a statement released in Kabul that the wounded soldier is in stable condition. Six Afghan soldiers were also hurt during the operation near the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.
“The service member was killed conducting train, advise, assist activities with Afghan counterparts under NATO authorities when their patrol triggered an improvised explosive device. An investigation is being conducted to determine the exact circumstances of the event,” the statement added.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss, but remain committed to helping our Afghan partners provide a brighter future for themselves and their children,” said General John Nicholson, commander of USFOR-A and Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.
He also expressed “deepest sympathies” to the families and friends of those involved on behalf of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan, as well as Resolute Support.
The U.S. military has recently deployed around 100 troops to Lashkar Gah to assist Afghan forces in their bid to defend the increasingly besieged city. The Taliban has captured several districts in Helmand in recent weeks and fierce battles have been raging in other districts bringing the Taliban close to the provincial capital.
On Monday, the U.S. military spokesman, Brigadier General Charles Cleveland, while announcing the deployment of fresh troops to Lashkar Gah, emphasized they have been tasked with training, advising and assisting Afghan partners to enable them to better plan counter-offensives and retake lost areas in Helmand.
He ruled out the possibility of the city’s fall to the Taliban.
“The Taliban have the ability to commit violent acts ...sometimes in the city or in the suburbs and certainly we have seen that in some of the districts. But we don't believe that Lashkar Gah is about to fall,” said Cleveland.
General Cleveland acknowledged that Taliban fighters have used new tactics during recent fighting, enabling them to inflict losses on Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) in Helmand.
“Again clearly concerning, but on the flip side of it, they are still not able to hold, in most instances, major population centers or major strategic areas down in Helmand,” he noted.
The largest Afghan province borders Pakistan and its billion-dollar opium crop produces most of the world’s heroin and is used to fund the Taliban insurgency.