U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan

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KABUL, March 22 - Two U.S. service members were killed on Friday while conducting an operation in Afghanistan, a statement from the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Kabul said.

"Two US service members were killed while conducting an operation", Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.

No details were provided, and their names will not be disclosed until 24 hours after their next of kin are notified, according to Department of Defense policy.

There are about 14,000 US forces in Afghanistan, supporting embattled Afghan forces as they struggle on two fronts-facing a resurgent Taliban who now hold sway over nearly half the country and also the ISIS terrorist group, which has sought to expand its footprint in Afghanistan even as its self-proclaimed "caliphate" has crumbled in Syria and Iraq. The U.S.is now negotiating a peace deal with the Islamic terrorist organization before the country's presidential elections in November, potentially bringing an end to an 18-year-war which has become the center point of U.S. foreign policy.

Last year, 13 US service members were killed in Afghanistan. Under recent plans drawn up by the Trump administration, all American troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan over the next three to five years, in exchange for a deal that allows the current government in Kabul to share power with the Taliban.

About 14,000 USA troops remain in Afghanistan, a number President Trump plans to cut down by about half.

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The deaths are the latest casualties to hit the global coalition amid ongoing peace talks between Washington and the Taliban.

The Afghan government has complained it is being left out of the negotiations, as many Afghans fear a premature United States withdrawal could see the Taliban return to some semblance of power.

In response, Mohib was barred from any future dealings with US officials, Afghan and USA media reported.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's security forces and civilians continue to bear the brunt of deaths in the war.

President Ashraf Ghani, speaking at the World Economic Forum in January, said that about 45,000 Afghan security forces have been killed since he took office in September 2014, which works out to an average of 849 per month. And the United Nations said 3,804 civilians died in Afghanistan previous year, more "than at any time since records have been kept".