There is an ongoing situation of fighting in the Marjah area of the Helmand province in Afghanistan after one U.S. service member was killed and two wounded during a counterterrorism operation there, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
U.S. Special Operations Forces were conducting a joint operation with Afghan forces Tuesday in Marjah when they were attacked. A U.S. medevac helicopter then came under mortar and small arms fire when it flew in to evacuate the troops, according to defense officials who spoke to NBC News.
“This is an ongoing situation, there is still a fight going on in the immediate surroundings,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Tuesday, the Washington Post reported. Cook added that the Defense Department doesn’t “have all the details surrounding what’s taking place” because of continued fighting in the area.
According to multiple news outlets, two U.S. helicopters were called in to evacuate the casualties in Marjah. One of the helicopters turned back after coming under fire, while the other struck a wall during landing and remains in the district.
Cook said that both choppers involved were HH-60 Pavehawks.
Recent weeks have given way to increased fighting in the Helmand Province as Taliban fighters have sought to gain control of key areas there.
The Defense Department has not released the names of the casualties in Tuesday’s attack.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss,” Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement earlier Tuesday announcing the death of the American service member. “Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of those involved.”
Citing an anonymous defense official, the Post also reported that some Afghan forces were wounded in the mission Tuesday.
A Taliban spokesman claimed that the group had brought down a U.S. helicopter in Helmand.