Sept. 7 (UPI) — The Department of Defense on Friday identified a U.S. soldier killed earlier in the week in a Kabul, Afghanistan, car bomb attack as Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz.
Barreto, 34, was from Morovis, Puerto Rico, and was assigned to the 82nd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. He was in Afghanistan as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, which includes counterterrorism, and training and assisting Afghan forces.
“With honor and courage, Sgt. 1st Class Barreto answered our nation’s call to deploy and serve in Afghanistan,” said Col. Arthur Sellers, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. “In this most difficult time, his loved ones are now surrounded by a community of love and caring by members of our Paratrooper Family Readiness Group.”
Barreto was among at least 10 people killed Thursday in a suicide bomb attack in downtown Kabul. Another 42 people sustained injuries in the bombing at the National Directorate of Security checkpoint.
Also killed in the attack were Romanian service members.
There are about 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, 16 of whom have died since the beginning of 2019.
Last month, President Donald Trump announced plans to maintain a presence of 8,600 troops in Afghanistan in the midst of a large-scale withdrawal from the country.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the two sides were close to a deal that would have the United States and foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan in exchange for a commitment from the Taliban to not use the nation to launch terrorist attacks against the United States.
Full removal of troops from Afghanistan has faced criticism from some opponents who fear such a withdrawal could allow for a resurgence of terrorist groups in the country.
Barreto, who joined the Army in August 2010, is survived by his wife and children of Cameron, N.C.