(CNSNews.com) – The death of two more U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan on Wednesday brings to 14 the number of Americans killed in combat there this year – the highest annual combat death toll since 2014, and with more than four months of the year yet to run.
The Pentagon has yet to release details of the deaths reported by the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, withholding that information until families of the fallen are notified.
The 14 combat deaths this year compares to 13 in 2018, 11 in 2017, nine in 2016, and 11 in 2015. Forty U.S. personnel were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2014.
Since the start of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, which succeeded Operation Enduring Freedom in January 2015, a total of 77 U.S. personnel have died, 57 of them in combat circumstances
And since Operation Enduring Freedom began in October 2001, 2,428 U.S. personnel have been killed in the conflict, 1,904 of them in combat, according to a tally of official data.
The latest deaths come amid continuing talks between U.S. envoys and the Taliban terrorist group, aimed at finding a negotiated settlement to America’s longest war.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. lead negotiator, briefed President Trump and national security officials at the weekend on progress, before heading back to Doha, Qatar on Wednesday for more talks.
“Productive week in Washington,” Khalilzad tweeted on Wednesday. “Briefed management on where we are and next steps. Back on the road again. First stop Doha where we will try and close on remaining issues. We’re ready. Let’s see if the Taliban are as well.”
Speaking in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Trump said it was “ridiculous” how long the U.S. has been fighting in Afghanistan.
“We have good talks going, and we’ll see what happens,” he said. “We are bringing some of our troops back. But we have to have a presence.”
“Right now, what we’re doing is we’re negotiating with the government and we’re negotiating with the Taliban, and we’ll see what happens from it, what’s coming from it,” the president said. “I will say this: The Taliban would like to stop fighting us. They would like to stop fighting us. They’ve lost a lot. But we’ll see what happens.”
Asked whether he thought the Taliban could be trusted to honor a negotiated peace deal, Trump replied, “Nobody can be trusted.”
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