Four Americans Killed in Afghan Blast, Despite U.S.-Brokered Peace Talks – The New York Times

Last week, at least hundreds of Taliban fighters stormed a district in Afghanistan’s western Badghis Province, resulting in dozens of casualties. Fighting in Afghanistan usually escalates in the spring as the weather gets warmer, but the violence has been intensified by the peace talks as all sides try to increase their leverage.

Last month, two members of an American Special Forces unit and four Afghan Special Forces soldiers were killed during a joint operation in Gul Tepa District, on the outskirts of Kunduz city. American and Afghan officials said that the insurgents were massing on the outskirts of the city, which they have twice overrun, in 2015 and in 2016.

Monday’s attack near Bagram brings to seven the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan this year. The Pentagon did not say whether the service members killed were Special Operations troops that make up about half of the 14,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan. The remainder are trainers, advisers and support forces.

President Trump has expressed his desire to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. A Pentagon plan being offered in the peace negotiations would withdraw all American troops over the next three to five years. The rest of the international force in Afghanistan would leave at the same time, after having mixed success in stabilizing the country since 2001.

The Defense Department statement said that the names of the Americans killed were being withheld pending notification of the families.

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