Two US service members killed in Afghanistan

Two United States service members were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the US military announced.

Two United States soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday, the US military announced.

They were attacked in Uruzgan Province and died from small arms fire, the Defense Department said Thursday, adding that the incident remains under investigation.

The soldiers were identified as Master Sgt. Micheal B. Riley, 32, of Heilbronn, Germany, and Sgt. James G. Johnston, 24, of Trumansburg, New York.

The US military initially said the two soldiers were killed on Wednesday.

“This is tragic,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday in India. “My condolences go out to them. I’m praying for them, their families and for all the soldiers that were around them. I think this drives home the need for us to be successful with the missions that we have undertaken in Afghanistan as a reconciliation to reduce the level of violence, to reduce the level of risk to Afghans broadly, and the risk to American service members.”

Pompeo on Tuesday announced there had been “real progress” in Afghan peace talks with the Taliban, during an unannounced visit to the country. He told reporters that the US government was prepared to remove American troops from the country.

“We’ve made clear to the Taliban that we’re prepared to remove our forces, I want to be clear, we’ve not yet agreed on a timeline to do so,” he said Tuesday.

Officials have previously told CNN that the Trump administration has instructed the US military to begin drawing up plans for a substantial drawdown of US personnel in Afghanistan.

The two deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in Afghanistan in 2019 to nine. The US has had a military presence in Afghanistan since October 7, 2001, and since then, more than 2,000 US military personnel have been killed.

Overall, the US has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, where they primarily advise Afghan forces who are battling the Taliban.

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