USA service members killed in Afghanistan, NATO mission says

Clay Curtis
August 24, 2019

Two American service members were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, bringing the number of USA troops killed in Afghanistan to at least 14 in 2019.

The US and the Taliban said they would return to talks in Qatar on Friday aimed at bringing a close to Afghanistan's 18-year conflict.

In an interview with TOLO News, Ghani said that he requested a reduction in the number of American troops in Afghanistan in a letter to US President Donald Trump seven months ago but reiterated that a decrease in number forces will be conditions-based. Head of the US-led Resolute Support Mission forces General Scott Miller is also part of the negotiations.

The talks will look to establish a timeline for the USA withdrawal of its more than 13,000 troops in Afghanistan.

A breakthrough could pave the way for a withdrawal of global troops from Afghanistan, including some 14,000 U.S. soldiers.

The Taliban has so far rejected holding direct talks with the Afghan government.

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Hopes for a potential peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban emerge following President Trump's meeting with his top advisors, including Mr. Khalilzad.

The U.S. formally ended its Afghan combat mission in 2014 but still provides extensive air and other support to local forces battling both the Taliban and an affiliate of the Islamic State group.

Two Taliban spokesmen said the ninth round of talks between the United States and the Taliban representatives started on Thursday evening, and a senior USA official privy to the peace negotiations said the "crucial meeting iron out smaller details had begun" in Qatar's capital city, Doha. Over 32,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan in the past 10 years.

About 20,000 foreign troops, majority American, are now in Afghanistan as part of a USA -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday night asserted that his government will see the final draft of a U.S. -Taliban agreement for a "comprehensive discussion" before it is signed.

Khalilzad, who plans to meet with the Afghan government in Kabul on this trip, has expressed his desire for an agreement by September 1, less than a month before Afghanistan's presidential election. Some US forces carry out counter-terrorism operations.

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