Two US troops die battling Islamic State in Afghanistan

Caroline Beck
May 3, 2017

"These operations will involve conventional attacks, guerrilla warfare, complex martyrdom (suicide) attacks, insider attacks, and use of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) to achieve their objectives", said the statement by the Taliban's so-called leadership war council.

Recent Taliban attacks, including one earlier this week on an army base in northern Afghanistan that killed more than 140 Afghan soldiers, would seem to warn of a tough fighting season ahead.

Already beset by killings, desertions, and struggles over leadership and morale, they have been straining to beat back insurgents since US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops ended their combat mission in December 2014.

Their main focus is to target ISIS and Al-Qaida militants and the latest offensive could prove to be an impetus for deadly wars in future with Taliban on one side and U.S. troops on the other side of the divide.

The assault led to the resignations of the Afghan defense minister and the army chief of staff, as well as fear and suspicion among security forces that the militants had help from inside.

Two US service members were killed and another was wounded Thursday while conducting a joint US-Afghan raid in the Achin District of Nangarhar Province, Pentagon spokesman US Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told CNN.

Beginning in 2016, Afghan security forces backed by U.S. military advisers have launched a major offensive against ISIS, with Nicholson saying that the terror group has lost about half of its fighters and been ejected from two-thirds of its territory.

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The assault is believed to be the deadliest by the Taliban on an Afghan military target since they were driven from power in 2001, and fuelled fears of insider attacks - when Afghan soldiers and police turn their guns on colleagues or on global troops.

UNAMA documented a 54 percent increase in conflict-related deaths of women and a 17 percent rise in child fatalities compared to the same period past year.

According to a U.S. government estimate in November 2016, the Afghan government had uncontested control of only 57% of the country - down from 72% a year earlier.

"I believe this will be a hard year for Afghan security forces, as they will be facing the resilient Taliban's complex and sophisticated attacks countrywide", he told AFP.

In addition to the Taliban, Afghanistan is battling an emerging local Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) affiliate known as Islamic State in Khorasan.

Around ten Taliban insurgents disguised as members of the military forced their way on to the base last Friday.

The incident comes just days after USA defence secretary Jim Mattis visited Afghanistan, and while U.S. troops are battling suspected Islamic State militants in Nangarhar province. Some analysts even argued the strike could boost the Taliban, who had been fighting a turf war with IS in Nangarhar province near the border with Pakistan, where the bomb was dropped.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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