Georgian soldier killed, two US troops wounded in Afghanistan convoy attack

Georgian soldier killed, two US troops wounded in Afghanistan convoy attack

By Loree Lewis   
U.S. Army personnel direct traffic during an Entry Control Point stop in Qarabagh, Afghanistan/. (Spc. Ryan D. Green/U.S Army file photo)

WASHINGTON – A Georgian soldier from the NATO-led Resolute Support mission was killed and six other personnel were wounded Thursday after their convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber in Kabul province, the coalition said in a statement Friday.

In addition, two Afghan civilians were killed and another seven were wounded in the attack.

The six wounded personnel — two U.S. service members, three Georgian soldiers one Afghan interpreter — are in stable condition and being treated at a U.S. military hospital at Bagram Airfield.

The attack took place in Qarabagh District, which lies north of the Afghan capital city of Kabul.

The NATO-led coalition is made up of some 13,500 troops from 39 different countries. The troops are serving in the Resolute Support mission to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces. Georgia is not a member to the NATO alliance, but has 870 troops participating in the effort. The U.S. component is made up of some 8,400 service members.

“The commitment of Georgia as our largest non-NATO contributor is vital to our mission and we are honored to stand beside them under these difficult circumstances,” Gen. John Nicholson, the dual-hatted top commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

On Wednesday, two U.S. service members — Sgt. Jonathon Michael Hunter, 23, and Spc. Christopher Michael Harris, 25 — were killed in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar when their convoy was attacked with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED). The Taliban also claimed responsibility for that attack.

Nicholson six months ago requested several thousand more troops to change the course of the 16-year conflict, which he described at the time as a “stalemate.” The Secretary General of NATO has since said that the alliance will pledge additional troops. The Trump administration is currently weighing whether to boost the force or scale it down, with the president questioning the value of extending the U.S. commitment.

Defense Department spokesperson Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Friday that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is holding off on making tactical decisions, including on the troop level, until the White House gives guidance “on what the strategic desired end state is.”

“He’s waiting to do anything with that until he has a solid South Asia strategy,” Davis said of Mattis. “And, that’s very much in the works and has been the subject of meetings even this week.”

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