Islamic State militants captured U.S. equipment and weapons that American troops helping Afghan soldiers had to abandon after coming under fire in eastern Afghanistan, a U.S. military official confirmed Tuesday.
ISIS’ media arm disseminated photos this past weekend of the seized material, including a rocket launcher, grenades, machine gun ammunition, identification cards, and an encrypted radio.
Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the deputy chief of staff for the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan, said the equipment was lost in the eastern province of Nangarhar while troops were moving the location of an area designated to handle casualties.
Cleveland said in a statement the initial casualty collection point came under "effective enemy fire," driving the U.S. soldiers to a covered position.
"In the course of moving the [casualty collection point] to a safe location, some equipment was left behind," Cleveland said. "For understandable reasons, the lives of soldiers were not put at risk to recover the equipment."
ISIS’ Amaq media agency circulated photos of the U.S. equipment Saturday that included an American soldier’s identification card.
Cleveland said the soldier was currently with his unit and denied that any military personnel had been compromised or that the troops were overrun.
"The loss of equipment is regrettable but no equipment is worth undue risk to those involved," Cleveland said. "And we do not expect any measurable operational impact due to the loss."
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson, told reporters in July that at least five American special forces soldiers were wounded fighting ISIS in Nangarhar.
President Obama announced last month that the U.S. would leave 8,400 troops in Afghanistan through the end of his term amid heightened insurgency threats–decreasing the American presence from 9,800 soldiers. Obama called the security situation in Afghanistan "precarious" and said that Afghan security forces were still dependent on American assistance.