WASHINGTON (AP) - A number of U.S. special operations troops were killed or wounded in fighting in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, U.S. defense officials said.
The fighting, which reflects intensified efforts by the U.S. and its Afghan partners to push back against recent Taliban gains, was near the city of Marja, Helmand province. The Taliban in recent weeks have focused their efforts on retaking parts of Helmand.
Details on the battle and the number wounded or killed was sketchy. A military spokesman in Kabul said the operation was "ongoing."
One U.S. official said a U.S. helicopter was sent to evacuate casualties but did not immediately take off because a mortar landed nearby. It was not clear whether the mortar damaged the helicopter.
The officials were not authorized to speak publicly about the fighting and spoke on condition of anonymity.
In Kabul, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ron Flesvig, said the helicopter was not shot down. He said it had landed with a mechanical problem.
Associated Press writer Joseph Krauss in Cairo contributed to this report.
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