Published: Fri, April 28, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

Friendly fire may have killed US troops in Afghanistan: Pentagon

Friendly fire may have killed US troops in Afghanistan: Pentagon

US officials are investigating whether the two Army Rangers killed this week battling Islamic State loyalists in eastern Afghanistan were victims of a friendly fire incident, the Pentagon said Friday.

USA forces had teamed with Afghan fighters to target an ISIS compound and tunnel complex.

Davis added that the target of the raid was Abdul Hasib, the emir of Islamic State in Afghanistan. He declined to say how many militant fighters they faced, but said USA jets, drones, ground-attack helicopters, and an AC-130 gunship were used throughout the firefight.

About 35 Islamic State fighters are believed to have been killed, Davis said.

The U.S. military statement said the Rangers and commandos fought at close quarters at times, and took fire from multiple compounds. "We were going after the leader of ISIS in Afghanistan and doing it in a way that required us to put a large number of people on the ground as part of this mission, and it was a mission that appears to have accomplished its objective. but it did so at a cost".

A formal probe was underway to determine whether the bullets came from U.S., Afghan or jihadist gunfire.

The jihadists established a foothold there in early 2015 and their numbers now are about half what they were at their peak.

A third ranger was wounded but Davis said there was no indication it was caused by friendly fire.

An Army Apache helicopter flies over Afghanistan.

The operation took place in the Mamand Valley, where the USA earlier this month dropped the largest non-nuclear munition ever used - known as the mother of all bombs - to destroy an IS tunnel network.

Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, left, and Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas were killed while conducting combat operations in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. "It is possible these Rangers were struck by friendly fire".

That bombing came just days after a U.S. Army special forces soldier was killed in the region.

Nonetheless, ISIS-Khorasan has proven its ability to continue to affect the battlefield in Afghanistan, where USA forces have been fighting for 16 years.

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