The embroiled conflict in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of two more United States service members, doubling the number of American personnel who have died in the country this year.
BBC reports the names of those who were killed will be withheld, per procedure, for 24 hours after their respective families have been notified.
The Wall Street Journal reports the U.S.-led international military mission did not share the location or circumstances of the soldiers’ deaths.
The deaths come as U.S. and Taliban insurgents are meeting together and negotiating an end to the near-20 year conflict, the report continues.
Despite the negotiations, the country is more dangerous than ever.
More civilians were killed last year in Afghanistan than at any time since records have been kept, with 3,804 civilians losing their lives.
At least six people were killed in three bomb explosions in the the capital, Kabul, on Thursday during Persian New Year celebrations. The attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group.
Thousands of Nato-led troops remain in Afghanistan supporting government efforts against the Taliban.
President Trump is reportedly considering withdrawing half of the 14,000 American troops currently serving, which make up the bulk of the force.
President Trump has repeatedly spoken against the continued warring effort in Afghanistan and, as Bloomberg reports, said he would pull the U.S. military presence from the country during his 2019 State of the Union address.
Speaking jointly of the fight against ISIS in Syria and against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Trump said: “great nations do not fight endless wars.”
“Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty monsters,” Trump added in the February speech, Bloomberg reports. “Now, as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.”
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.
Trump also pledged in his speech to Congress that he’ll reduce the 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan. After losing more than 2,300 U.S. soldiers and spending more than $900 billion in Afghanistan since 2001, critics say the U.S. risks losing hard-won gains in what has become America’s longest war.
“I have also accelerated our negotiations to reach, if possible, a political settlement in Afghanistan,” Trump said Tuesday. “In Afghanistan, my administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban. As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism.”
The Trump administration is seeking an agreement with the Taliban that would let American troops come home. That will require a breakthrough brokered by his special envoy on Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been meeting separately with Taliban and Afghani officials in search of a solution.