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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.

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.

Go deeper: Trump may reduce troops in Afghanistan without Taliban deal

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

4 hours ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

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