August 21, 2019 / 5:27 PM / a month ago

Two U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two American service members were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said in a statement, as the United States seeks to reach a negotiated end to the nearly 18-year-old war.

It gave no further details and withheld the names of the service members until next of kin were informed.

The incident brings the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan to at least 14 in 2019.

About 14,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Afghanistan as part of the U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces and to carry out counter-terrorism operations.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the U.S. military role in Afghanistan has basically turned into a “ridiculous” police force in a sign that he is open to a U.S. troop drawdown there after 18 years of war.

Trump, inheriting a war begun by then-President George W. Bush in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, expressed a willingness to remove some of the U.S. troops there but said some are needed to make sure the United States has intelligence assets on the ground.

Trump was briefed on Friday by top national security aides on a peace plan being negotiated by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad with leaders of the Afghanistan government and the Taliban.

A pullout has raised fears within the U.S. military and among some lawmakers that Afghanistan could plunge into a new civil war that could see a return of Taliban rule and give al Qaeda and other militants a sanctuary in which to expand and plot new attacks on U.S. and allied targets.

Reporting by Idrees Ali; writing by Doina Chiacu; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker

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