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Afghanistan conflict: US casualties on special forces mission

37Image caption Local forces have been supported by the US and UK military in combating the Taliban in Helmand

One US service member has been killed and two wounded during a special forces mission in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province.

The forces were taking part in a counter-terrorism operation when they came under fire, officials told US media.

A medical helicopter sent to rescue casualties was then forced down.

US-led Nato combat forces left Afghanistan at the end of 2014, but training and special forces remain.

Some 12,000 foreign soldiers are deployed as part of the Nato-led Resolute Support international coalition, which is meant to underpin Afghan security forces.

US special forces have recently been engaged in tackling Taliban fighters in Helmand.

‘Not shot down’

The incident took place near the town of Marjah on Tuesday, the officials said.

US military spokesman Brig Gen Wilson Shoffner said one service member had died as a result of wounds, adding: “We are deeply saddened by this loss… our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of those involved.”

The identity of the casualties has not yet been revealed.

Some reports said the “medevac” helicopter had also come under fire.

A spokesman in Afghanistan for the US military confirmed it had landed, but said it had experienced “mechanical malfunctions”.

“It was not shot down. It intentionally landed safely,” he said.

Helmand has long been a stronghold of the Taliban.

Afghan forces, aided by the US military, have been engaged in a fierce conflict recently with Taliban fighters who seized large swathes of Sangin district in the south of the province.

The fighting also sparked the deployment of a number of UK forces to Helmand for the first time in more than a year.

In September, the Taliban briefly overran the northern city of Kunduz in one of their biggest victories in 14 years of war.