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US and Romanian service members killed in Afghanistan, NATO Resolute Support says

Two members of NATO’s Afghanistan mission were killed in action in the capital Kabul on Thursday, September 5, Resolute Support said.

One service member was Romanian and the other was from the United States, the mission said without providing further details.

Earlier on Thursday the Taliban admitted it was behind a deadly car bomb in Kabul that killed at least 10 people and wounded over 40 others. Resolute Support did not say if the two service members were killed in the blast near the U.S. Embassy, saying only that they are killed in action in the capital.

But the Romanian defense ministry identified the service member as Corporal 3rd Class Cipirian-Stephen Polschi, saying he was killed in the Taliban bombing while driving a service vehicle near the Green Zone.

Romanian Army Corporal 3rd Class Ciprian-Ștefan Polschi was killed in Afghanistan
Romanian Army Corporal 3rd Class Ciprian-Ștefan Polschi was killed in a Taliban attack in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 5, 2019. Image: Romanian defense ministry

Polschi, who was 38 years old and on his third deployment to Afghanistan, was one of over 700 Romanians serving with Resolute Support across the country.

He was killed during a mission executed in the vicinity of Green Zone when his vehicle was hit by a VBIED on Thursday afternoon, the Romanian ministry of national defense told The Defense Post.

Polschi was a driver with the Resolute Support mission command, the Ministerul Apărării Naționale said.

Romanian minister of defense Gabriel-Beniamin Leș signed a decree to promote Polschi to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, the ministry said, and proposed to the president that he be decorated with one of the highest Romanian decorations for the servicemembers, the Order of the Star of Romania in the rank of Knight with combat marks.

The American is the 16th U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan this year. The Defense Department on Friday identified him as Sergeant 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, from Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barreto was assigned to the 82nd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

He joined the Army in 2010 and had deployed to Afghanistan twice before, Stars and Stripes reported.

Barreto was killed “when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Kabul,” the Pentagon said, adding that the incident was under investigation.

On August 29, U.S. Army Special Forces soldier Sergeant 1st Class Dustin B. Ard was killed during combat operations in Afghanistan’s southern Zabul province. Two U.S. Special Forces soldiers were killed in combat operations in Faryab province just days earlier on August 21, and three American forces were killed in Uruzgan and Faryab provinces in July.

Also in July a Croatian soldier serving with Resolute Support NATO Afghanistan was killed and two others seriously wounded in a Taliban suicide attack in Kabul.

Violence in the capital and across Afghanistan has flared up in recent weeks even as the U.S. is leading an effort to try to forge a peace deal with the Taliban after nearly 18 years of war.

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