U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan highest in years
Seventeen service members died in Afghanistan in 2019, the highest number since 2015, according to a year-end tally compiled by the Department of Defense and reported by Army Times.
Fourteen of the fallen service members were from the Army while three were Marines.
The soldiers killed included eight Green Berets, an Army Ranger and three paratroopers.
Last year’s list of fatalities caused by hostile action surpassed the death toll of 2018, when 13 service members died, and 2017, when 11 died.
In 2016 and 2015, the number of military fatalities resulting from hostile action was nine and 10, respectively.
Peace talks between the United States and the Taliban came to a halt in September when President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive environmental fights to watch in 2020 Lawmakers close to finalizing federal strategy to defend against cyberattacks The 7 big Supreme Court cases to watch in 2020 MORE cancelled a planned meeting with Taliban and Afghan leaders.
The president had considered decreasing U.S. troop levels in the country to 8,600.
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NBC News reported in August that Trump told advisors that he wanted to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by November 2020. He has also threatened to close the U.S. embassy in Kabul, complaining that it is too large and expensive.
Troop levels in Afghanistan have been a source of tension between Trump and Senate Republicans for months, with GOP lawmakers repeatedly warning Trump not to pull soldiers out of the region while the Taliban remains a threat.
The Senate a year ago passed a resolution authored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive environmental fights to watch in 2020 U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan highest in years 2020 forecast: A House switch, a slimmer Senate for GOP — and a bigger win for Trump MORE (R-Ky.) that warned “the precipitous withdrawal” of U.S. forces from Syria or Afghanistan “could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security.”