The U.S. military is investigating whether two Army Rangers were killed by friendly fire either from fellow U.S. troops or from Afghan commandos they were accompanying. The deaths came during a raid targeting the top ISIS leader in Afghanistan who is believed may have been among the 35 of the terror group's fighters killed in an intense firefight.
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Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, Illinois and Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, 23, of Kettering, Ohio, both of the Army's elite 75th Ranger Regiment, were killed in the raid Thursday. A third Ranger received a head wound and remained with his unit.
Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed Friday that their families have been informed that their deaths may have been caused from friendly fire.
According to Davis, the raid targeted a compound housing Abdul Hasib, the ISIS Emir in Afghanistan. It is suspected, though not confirmed, that the ISIS leader was among the 35 ISIS fighters killed in the raid.
The heavily defended compound was located in the same Mohmand Valley where two weeks ago the U.S. dropped the massive bomb nicknamed the "Mother of All Bombs". Afghan officials say that bomb may have killed as many as 100 ISIS fighters.
The raid began Wednesday evening at 10:30 p.m. local time as 50 Army Rangers and 40 Afghan commandos were inserted by helicopter near the compound.
Almost immediately the U.S. and Afghan forces found taking enemy fire in an intense firefight that lasted three hours.
Rodgers and Thomas were mortally wounded in the initial moments of the firefight.
Airstrikes from fixed-wing aircraft and Apache helicopters were called in to support the American and Afghan troops in the firefight.
ISIS-Khorasan, is the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan. The group consists of existing Pakistan Taliban fighting groups that re-branded themselves as an ISIS affiliate.
The U.S. military’s current estimate is that there are between 600 and 800 ISIS fighters in eastern Afghanistan, a significant drop from the 3,000 or more estimate from 18 months ago.