Published: Mon, January 13, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Pentagon Identifies First US Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan In 2020

Pentagon Identifies First US Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan In 2020

The two soldiers are the first to be killed in action in Afghanistan in 2020.

On Sunday, military officials identified the casualties as 29-year-old Staff Sgt. Ian P. McLaughlin of Newport News, Virginia; and 21-year-old Pfc.

Villalon joined the Army in 2018 and was assigned to the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, where he served as a Combat Engineer.

A convoy of US troops was hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan's province of Kandahar on Saturday, AP reported, citing unidentified North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and local officials.

Officials said the soldiers were taking part in NATO's Resolute Support Mission. After completing basic combat training and advanced individual training, he was assigned to the 68th Engineer Company, 62nd Engineer Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas as a horizontal construction engineer. McLaughlin's awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal and the Army Commendation Medal with "C" Device.

Villalon joined the Army in 2018 as a combat engineer and was on his first deployment.

Villalon was survived by his parents.

The Taliban claimed the attack that killed the service members who were conducting operations on Saturday when their armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device.

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The Guards' top commander, Hossein Salami, said "we are more upset than anyone over the incident", state media reported. Some Iranian artists, including famed director Masoud Kimiai, withdrew from an upcoming global film festival.

The insurgents now control or hold sway over roughly half of Afghanistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. peace envoy has been pushing the Taliban to agree on a ceasefire or at least scale back their attacks.

Almost 2,400 US troops have been killed in America's longest-running war, which began in 2001.

The statement noted that a "Taliban leader in [Afghanistan's] northeast", Mohibullah was destroyed as he was driving in Kunduz province's Imam Saib district.

McLaughlin and Villalon are the first US service members to be killed in Afghanistan this year.

Civilians have also been victims of attacks by the Taliban.

The insurgent group stages nearly daily deadly attacks on Afghan security forces and their global partners even as it holds peace talks with the United States.

The U.S. has had about 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, with about 5,000 of them doing counterterrorism missions.

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