A U.S. flag at a base in Afghanistan in November 2014. Photo: Wakil Koshar/AFP via Getty Images
Two American service members were killed and six others wounded in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday in a firefight, the U.S. military said in a statement to news outlets including Axios.
The latest: The two soldiers killed were named by the Defense Department Sunday as Sgt. Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28, and Sgt. Antonio Rey Rodriguez, 28. They were both posthumously promoted.
Details: "[R]eports indicate an individual in an Afghan uniform opened fire on the combined U.S. and Afghan force with a machine gun" in Sherzad district, Nangarhar province, the statement said. The wounded were being treated at a U.S. medical facility following the attack.
- A Nangarhar provincial council official told AP "the gunman was killed."
- Col. Sonny Leggett, spokesperson for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement earlier that a combined U.S. and Afghan force were "conducting an operation in Nangarhar province" when they were "engaged by direct fire."
- "We are still collecting information and the cause or motive behind the attack is unknown at this time," Leggett said in the later statement.
The big picture: U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been in Qatar in recent weeks meeting with representatives of the Taliban, which has been active in Nangarhar province, per AP.
- During his State of the Union address last Tuesday, President Trump referenced the peace talks and paid tribute to U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan, saying that it's not the function of the U.S. "to serve other nations as law enforcement agencies."
Where it stands: More than 2,400 U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of the country following the Sept. 11 attacks.
- 23 U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan in 2019 — the most to die in one year while fighting militant groups there since 2014.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.