At least two U.S. military service members were killed Thursday and another wounded during a raid against an ISIS target in eastern Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokesman told NBC News.
The operation occurred near Achin, a district in the south of Nangarhar province, where earlier this month the U.S. dropped the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used — also known as the “mother of all bombs” — to obliterate an ISIS tunnel complex.
Afghanistan remains mired in violence and bloodshed as the Taliban and ISIS fight over territory and clash against government and coalition forces.
While military officials say the non-nuclear bomb strike was a tactical one, questions have arisen as to whether the U.S. plans to escalate the war in Afghanistan.
Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has suggested to Congress that the NATO coalition needs several thousand more troops in the country, although neither Defense Secretary Jim Mattis nor President Donald Trump have committed to that publicly. There are some 8,400 U.S. personnel stationed there now to train and advise Afghan forces and support a counterterrorism unit against the various militant networks.
Another American soldier was killed earlier this month while conducting operations against ISIS in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.
Mattis made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan earlier this week and met with Afghan leaders and U.S. military officials as he hammers out recommendations on America’s strategy there.
“We are under no illusions about the challenges associated with this mission,” Mattis told reporters.