Two foreign soldiers have died in Afghanistan, NATO reported Sunday, though neither was involved in a high-profile military operation against Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan.
In two brief statements, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said both soldiers were killed on Saturday, one in the country's east and the other in the south. ISAF did not give the nationality of either soldier, according to policy.
It said the soldier killed in the south died as a result of an improvised bomb attack, but added that the death was not associated with Operation Mushtarak, the major assault on a Taliban stronghold in Helmand province. Mushtarak was launched in the Marjah and Nad Ali areas of Helmand on February 13, with the deaths so far of 12 foreign soldiers, an ISAF spokesman said.
A total of 24 foreign troop deaths have been announced since the offensive, most of them caused by IEDs, which have become the main weapon of the militants who have a presence across most of the country.
Some 15,000 US, NATO and Afghan troops are involved in the Helmand operation, aimed at clearing the Taliban out of the area, which produces most of the world's opium and has been controlled for years by militants and drug traffickers. Taliban fighters are said by military officials to be putting up stiff resistance in pockets of the target area, and innumerable hidden bombs they have planted are hampering the progress of the mission. Senior commanders have said they expect the assault to last up to a month.
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