Two U.S. Army Rangers killed in Afghanistan possibly died from friendly fire while on a mission, according to the U.S. military.
Sgt. Joshua Rogers, 22, and Sgt. Cameron Thomas, 23, of the 3rd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment were killed on Wednesday while on a mission in Achin district, Nangarhar province. Two platoons of Army Rangers along with a similar sized force of Afghan Special Security Forces were involved in the attack.
“We investigate all combat deaths of U.S. service members, and because we believe that there is a possibility of friendly fire in this case, it is appropriate to notify the families,” said U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) in a released statement. “Once the investigation is complete, USFOR-A will provide the results to our chain of command.”
The mission targeted a group of Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) province fighters and their leader, Abdul Hasib. The nighttime raid began at 10:30 PM and targeted an IS-K headquarters where Hasib was believed to be located. The two Ranger platoons and their Afghan counterparts were inserted by helicopter not far from headquarters.
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“Within a few minutes of landing, our combined force came under intense fire from multiple directions and well-prepared fighting positions,” said the statement.
The Rangers and Afghan forces closed in on the enemy in what was reportedly an intense close-quarters fight. Several air strikes were called in to support the forces, and an unknown number of wounded Rangers were medically evacuated. The engagement lasted for more than three hours.
Several “high-level” IS-K leaders were killed in the fight in addition to approximately 35 fighters. Hasib’s death has yet to be confirmed.
U.S. forces in Afghanistan are currently engaged in a two-pronged operation, one which focuses on supporting the Afghan government against the Taliban and another targeting IS-K forces. The deaths of the two Rangers comes as Afghanistan’s fighting season is set to resume, which military commanders expect will be difficult.
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