A member of the US armed forces was killed and another two were wounded in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, where fierce fighting has raged between Taliban insurgents and Afghan government forces.
The US service member died as a result of wounds sustained during operations near Marjah, Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner, spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement.
"We are deeply saddened by this loss," he said. "Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of those involved."
Details of the incident are sparse. US officials have confirmed that special operations troops came under heavy mortar and small-arms fire during a counter-terrorism operation, and that a medical helicopter was hit by mortar fire while it was on the ground during a joint American-Afghan special operations mission.
"We can confirm a US helicopter has landed in Marjah, Helmand province, and is experiencing mechanical problems. It was not shot down," noted US Army Colonel Michael Lawhorn, spokesman for the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.
For more than six months, Helmand has been the scene of battles between insurgents and security forces that have complained of being abandoned by the US-backed Afghan government. The deputy governor of the volatile southern province warned in December that Helmand could fall to the Taliban after months of heavy fighting.
US Special Forces are reported to have taken part in fighting in Helmand in recent weeks. The NATO headquarters in Kabul has not confirmed the reports.
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