Two US service members were killed Thursday battling Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan alongside local troops, reports the AP, rare combat deaths for American forces who largely handed over securing the nation to Afghan troops some two years ago. NATO described the Americans killed and two other Americans wounded in the assault as being part of "a train, advise, and assist mission" in Afghanistan's Kunduz province. They have not been identified. Kunduz officials later said they were investigating claims that local civilians also were killed in the fighting, possibly in a retaliatory airstrike.
Taliban fighters briefly overran the city of Kunduz in early October, a show of strength by the insurgents that also highlighted the troubles facing local Afghan forces 15 years after the US-led invasion of the country. The Taliban captured and held parts of Kunduz a year earlier as well before the city was fully liberated weeks later with the help of US airstrikes. Though US combat operations are officially over, thousands of US troops remain in Afghanistan, and special forces routinely accompany Afghan forces on missions, notes Reuters. (Afghanistan's own refugee crisis is beyond grim.)