US forces experienced the worst loss of life this year in Afghanistan when three soldiers were demised in a Taliban bombing Tuesday. Three more soldiers and an American contractor were wounded.
The deaths took place when a roadside bomb went off near Ghazni City, in the southeastern province of the same name, killing Special Forces soldiers three months after they were sent to save that city from falling to the Taliban.
The Pentagon declared an end to U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014, but since that time, the Taliban have expanded their reach, and the Americans have rejoined the fray.
A witness said the bomb in Ghazni went off as a U.S. convoy passed on the highway. “The convoy set off a roadside mine, and there was smoke all over the place,” said the witness, Haji Abdul Amin, a local resident. “The road was blocked, and a few minutes later, helicopters landed and took the dead.”
Here’s what to know about the state of U.S. and Afghan forces in the seemingly intractable conflict, and why Americans are still dying in a city they liberated from the Taliban months ago.
Regular U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan came to an end in 2014, but since that time, the Taliban have massively expanded their reach, controlling more territory — and killing more Afghan soldiers and police — than at any time since they were ousted from power in 2001.
President Ashraf Ghani recently shows that 28,529 Afghan security forces have been killed since 2015, a number that works out to an average of about 25 deaths per day.
The Taliban is not the only concern for the U.S. military. Another American soldier was killed just three days earlier as an outcome of a firefight with al-Qaida, which had been considered all but cleaned out in Afghanistan years ago, only to resurface suddenly in southwestern Nimroz province.
The military stated in a statement that the soldier, Sgt. Leandro A.S. Jasso, a 25-year-old Army Ranger from Washington state, was shot accidentally by a soldier from an Afghan “partner force.”
The U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin Scott Miller, expressed condolences to Jasso’s family. “Sgt. Jasso was killed defending our nation, fighting al-Qaida alongside our Afghan partners,” Miller said.