KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. and Afghan troops clashed and called airstrikes on a group of insurgents in southern Afghanistan, killing 43 militants, the U.S. military said Tuesday.
The militants ambushed the U.S.-Afghan force with sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Qalat district of Zabul province Sunday, a statement from the U.S. military said.
The joint force fought back and called in airstrikes that killed the militants, it said.
A civilian, working as a contractor for the U.S. military, was wounded in the operation. There were no casualties among Afghan and U.S. troops.
Southern Afghanistan is the center of the Taliban-led insurgency. More than 4,700 people _ mostly militants _ have died so far this year in insurgency-related violence.
An unprecedented number of U.S. troops _ about 32,000 _ are in Afghanistan today, and the Pentagon plans to send several thousand more forces in the coming months. At least 131 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan this year, as have 100 troops from other NATO nations.
Some of those U.S. and NATO troops work alongside Afghan army and police, mentoring and training the fledgling forces, as they take on the Taliban and other militants in daily battles across the country.