The U.S. military is investigating the possibility that friendly fire killed two U.S. Army Rangers who died in a three-hour ISIS firefight in Afghanistan, ABC News is reporting.
“USFOR-A is investigating the possibility that the two Rangers were accidentally killed by friendly fire during the more than three-hour fight,” reads a statement from U.S. forces in Afghanistan obtained by ABC News. “We have informed both of their families of this possibility and we have appointed a team to investigate the Soldiers’ deaths. We investigate all combat deaths of U.S. service members, and because we believe that there is a possibility of friendly fire in this case, it is appropriate to notify the families.”
According to CBS News, “The Pentagon is investigating whether the soldiers died as a result of friendly fire.”
“That may have been what happened here,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said during a briefing on April 28, according to CBS.
Cameron Thomas and Joshua Rodgers, the U.S. service members killed fighting an ISIS leader’s forces in Afghanistan in April 2017, were both decorated Army Rangers from the U.S. Midwest who were on their third deployments.
The U.S. Army has identified the soldiers as Rodgers, 22, “who was assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia” and Thomas, 23, “who was assigned to Company D, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and stationed at Fort Benning.”
Both service members were killed while conducting combat operations against ISIS in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, in the area near where the U.S. recently dropped the “Mother of All Bombs” on the terrorist organization, the military reports.
The military says that Rodgers was born on August 22, 1994 in Normal, Illinois.
“After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army from his hometown of Bloomington, Illinois, August 2013, and completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, as an infantryman,” The Army press release says.
After graduating from the Basic Airborne Course, Rodgers “was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program 1, also at Fort Benning. Rodgers graduated from RASP 1 and was then assigned to Company C, 3rd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment where he served as a machine gunner, semi-automatic gunner, gun team leader and Ranger team leader.”
Thomas was born on August, 1993 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.” After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army from his hometown of Kettering, Ohio, in February 2012, and completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, as an Infantryman,” reports the military.
After graduating from the Basic Airborne Course there, “he was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program 1 also at Fort Benning. Thomas graduated from RASP 1 and was then assigned to Company D, 3rd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment where he served as an automatic rifleman, grenadier, and an anti-armor specialist,” the Army said.
Both Thomas and Rodgers had received many awards in service to their country.
The two Army Rangers died fighting ISIS militants with the Islamic State. A U.S. military statement says the Rangers were targeting an ISIS leader named Abdul Hasib.
According to the U.S. military statement obtained by ABC, the raid was on an ISIS compound and involved two platoons of Army Rangers as well as Afghan Special Security forces. A helicopter dropped the soldiers into Mohmand Valley near the headquarters of Hasib.
Intense fire “from multiple directions” ensued, but the U.S. forces killed “several high-level ISIS-K leaders and upwards of 35 fighters.” The military says, “if confirmed, the death of the Emir and his associates will significantly degrade ISIS-K operations in Afghanistan and help reach our goal of destroying them in 2017.”
According to Stripes.com, the two “died during a firefight with ISIS fighters in Nangarhar province, near the location where the United States dropped its most powerful non-nuclear bomb earlier this month for the first time in combat.”
A third service member was also wounded but is expected to survive, according to Stripes.
President Donald Trump has upped the ante and pressure on ISIS in Afghanistan, recently dropping what was dubbed the “Mother of All Bombs” on caves and hideaways used by the terrorist group.