ISIS fighters in Afghanistan claimed to have recently seized a trove of sensitive U.S. military equipment – including communications gear, a rocket launcher and the ID card of a U.S. soldier –but it remains unclear how the items came into the terror group’s possession.
There was no immediate information on when the pictures, posted to social media on Saturday, were taken, though the U.S. soldier’s ID expires in 2017, a possible sign the photos are relatively fresh. There was also no information on how the extremists captured the gear.
The American soldier whose identification was pictured, U.S. Army Specialist Ryan Jay Larson, was not captured by ISIS, Brigadier General Charlie Cleveland told Fox News on Sunday.
“Obviously, SPC Larson is not captured – he is accounted for and with his unit despite having lost his ID card and possibly some of his equipment during recent operations,” Cleveland said in an email. “Beyond that, there is a lot of equipment in those pictures.
“At this point, we don't know if all of the equipment in the pictures was lost during recent operations or at some other time in the past.”
It’s possible some of the equipment was left behind during a recent operation, but it was not lost due to any kind of hasty withdrawal, Cleveland said.
“We do know that U.S. troops were not forced to retreat during any operations,” he said.
SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi web activity, published the pictures and said they originated in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.
That’s the location where a company of nearly 150 U.S. Army Rangers recently took part in a multi-day assault against up to 1,500 ISIS-affiliated fighters. Mostly composed of former Taliban members, the fighters have a heavy presence in two districts near Pakistan.
Fox News reported the Army Rangers killed “hundreds" of the ISIS fighters, although at some cost – five Rangers were shot and at least two remain hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. None of the Rangers were killed.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told Bret Baier on Thursday that the Army Rangers' actions in the operation were “heroic” and confirmed they were involved in heavy combat.