ISLAMABAD - The U.S. military has announced that a U.S. service member was killed in action Monday in Afghanistan.
In making the announcement, the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan did not provide further details on where and how the casualty occurred.
The Taliban, in a statement sent to journalists, claimed the U.S. casualty occurred in the volatile northern Kunduz province.
The insurgent group said it targeted Afghan and American soldiers with a roadside bomb as they tried to conduct a joint raid against Taliban positions in the Char Dara district.
The Taliban controls most of Char Dara while the Afghan government controls the district headquarters. The insurgents hotly contest many districts in Kunduz, which has twice briefly fallen to the Taliban in recent years.
The Taliban claimed another U.S. soldier along with an Afghan commando were seriously wounded in the blast. It also shared photos of what they claimed were the identity badge of the slain U.S. soldier and his bloody uniform. Taliban claims are difficult to verify from independent sources and are often exaggerated.
Monday’s fatality brings the number of American soldiers killed this year in Afghanistan to at least 19.
The 18-year-old Afghan war, America’s longest, is said to have cost Washington nearly $1 trillion and the lives of around 2,300 U.S. service members.
There are currently more than 12,000 U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan. A portion of the force is conducting counterterrorism operations while the rest are part of a NATO-led alliance tasked to train and advise Afghan security forces battling the Taliban.
The U.S. has been trying to negotiate a deal with the Taliban to end the war but continued insurgent attacks have forced Washington to halt the process twice in recent days.
The latest disruption in the dialogue process came about two weeks ago when the Taliban launched a major suicide car bomb-and-gun assault on Bagram, the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan. The attack did not harm any American soldiers but it killed two Afghan civilians and wounded scores of others.
Under the proposed deal, the United States seeks a Taliban cease-fire and the insurgent group’s participation in intra-Afghan negotiations to permanently end decades of hostilities in the country. In return, U.S. and NATO force would commit a “conditions-based” withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan.
The Taliban, however, wants the U.S. to agree to a complete withdrawal of all foreign troops before the insurgent group ceases hostilities and finds a political settlement through Afghan-to-Afghan negotiations.
However, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper while speaking to reporters on Friday gave no indication a comprehensive troop withdrawal was under consideration.
“We have a mission in Afghanistan, that is to ensure that it never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists,” Esper told a Pentagon news conference. “Until we are confident that that mission is complete, we will maintain a presence to do that,” he added.