American soldiers helping Afghan troops fight Islamic State militants in Afghanistan were forced to abandon sensitive equipment and weapons when their position came under fire, a U.S. military official said on Tuesday.
Islamic State fighters recently circulated photos of a rocket launcher, grenades, ammunition, identification cards, and an encrypted radio among other equipment that they said they had seized.
U.S. military spokesman General Charles Cleveland denied that any American positions or personnel were overrun.
“We have been able to determine that the I.D. card and most of the pictured equipment was lost during recent operations in southern Nangarhar,” he said in a statement, referring to an eastern province.
The soldiers at the time had established a location to handle casualties, which is a routine step in any operation, Cleveland said.
At one point, the location came under “effective enemy fire” and the soldiers were forced to move to a safer position, he said.
“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.”
U.S. troops and aircraft have been taking a more active role in a recent operation against Islamic State militants after U.S. President Barack Obama authorized more military support for the Afghan government.
In July, U.S. commanders said at least five Special Forces were wounded in fighting Islamic State in Nangarhar.
The website that published the photos speculated that the equipment and weapons were left behind during that engagement, but Cleveland said he would not comment on any specific injuries to “protect the privacy of those involved”.
Despite the sensitive nature of some of the equipment, Cleveland said he did not expect there would be “any measurable operational impact” from the loss.
“The loss of any equipment is regrettable, but no equipment is worth undue risk to those involved,” he said.
Written by: Reuters