August 30, 2019 / 4:24 PM / 17 days ago

U.S. service member killed in combat in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. service member was killed in Afghanistan during combat operations, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said in a statement on Friday, as the United States seeks to reach a negotiated end to the nearly 18-year-old war.

It said the service member died during operations on Thursday and withheld the name until next of kin were informed and did not provide details of how the death occurred.

The latest death brings the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan this year to 15. Two U.S. service members were killed just over a week ago.

President Donald Trump said on Thursday that U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan were being reduced to 8,600 but that American forces would remain in the country even if Washington reaches an agreement with the Taliban to end the war.

Some 14,000 U.S. service members are currently in Afghanistan.

The Taliban said on Wednesday it was close to a “final agreement” with U.S. officials on a deal that would see U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan in exchange for a pledge that the country would not become a haven for other Islamist militant groups.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and ousted its Taliban leaders after they refused to hand over members of the al Qaeda militant group behind the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Reporting by Idrees Ali; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell

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