Army Rangers’ Deaths May Have Been Friendly Fire Incident

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Pentagon said Friday it is investigating whether friendly fire killed two American Army Rangers during a raid on an Islamic State group compound in Afghanistan earlier this week.

The Defense Department notified the families of Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, Illinois and Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, 23, of Kettering, Ohio – both from the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment – that friendly fire might have caused their deaths, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said.

Fifty Army Rangers and 40 Afghan commandos launched the raid late Wednesday night local time in the Mohmand Valley near what Davis described as “a heavily fortified compound and tunnel system.”

The raid had targeted Abdul Hasib, the top ISIS-K leader, who exercises command and control over ISIS-K operations and its connection with the larger ISIS network.

The Pentagon cannot yet confirm whether Hasib, the emir of the Islamic State Khurasan, was among the roughly 35 fighters killed in the three-hour fight.

“If confirmed, the death of the Emir and his associates will significantly degrade ISIS-K operations in Afghanistan and help reach our goal of destroying them in 2017,” a Pentagon statement said.

Several other top ISIS-K leaders died during the raid, Davis said.

U.S. and Afghan forces reportedly took immediate 360 degree fire, but Davis said the Pentagon has no estimate of how many ISIS-K fighters were on the ground during the three-hour firefight.

The raid occurred in the same area where the U.S. dropped the massive air ordinance bomb, nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” two weeks ago.

It is the largest non-nuclear weapon in the U.S. military arsenal.

Afghan officials say the blast, which reportedly destroyed a tunnel complex used by ISIS-K fighters, killed upward of 100 fighters.

When asked about the number of casualties, Davis declined to comment, noting that the U.S. military has not been able to conduct an independent assessment in the area yet.

Davis did not comment on how many other ISIS-K compounds remain in the Achin district in the Nangarhar Province, where ISIS-K has its nucleus.

Wednesday’s raid, however, degraded the group’s ability to operate in many of the existing compounds, Davis said.

The U.S. now estimates that about 1,000 ISIS-K fighters remain in Afghanistan, down from about 3,000 18 months ago.

The Department of Defense notified the families of Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, Illinois and Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, 23, of Kettering, Ohio – both from the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment – that friendly fire might have caused their deaths, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said.

Fifty Army Rangers and 40 Afghan commandos launched the raid late Wednesday night local time in the Mohmand Valley near what Davis described as “a heavily fortified compound and tunnel system.”

The raid had targeted Abdul Hasib, the top ISIS-K leader, who exercises command and control over ISIS-K operations and its connection with the larger ISIS network.

The Pentagon cannot yet confirm whether Hasib, the emir of the Islamic State Khurasan, was among the roughly 35 fighters killed in the three-hour fight.

“If confirmed, the death of the Emir and his associates will significantly degrade ISIS-K operations in Afghanistan and help reach our goal of destroying them in 2017,” a Pentagon statement said.

Several other top ISIS-K leaders died during the raid, Davis said.

U.S. and Afghan forces reportedly took immediate 360 degree fire, but Davis said the Pentagon has no estimate of how many ISIS-K fighters were on the ground during the three-hour firefight.

The raid occurred in the same area where the U.S. dropped the massive air ordinance bomb, nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” two weeks ago.

It is the largest non-nuclear weapon in the U.S. military arsenal.

Afghan officials say the blast, which reportedly destroyed a tunnel complex used by ISIS-K fighters, killed upward of 100 fighters.

When asked about the number of casualties, Davis declined to comment, noting that the U.S. military has not been able to conduct an independent assessment in the area yet.

Davis did not comment on how many other ISIS-K compounds remain in the Achin district in the Nangarhar Province, where ISIS-K has its nucleus.

Wednesday’s raid, however, degraded the group’s ability to operate in many of the existing compounds, Davis said.

The U.S. now estimates that about 1,000 ISIS-K fighters remain in Afghanistan, down from about 3,000 18 months ago.

%d bloggers like this: