U.S. service members on the ground in Afghanistan are once again engaged in the fight as Afghan security forces battle the Taliban in Kunduz city.

This is the first time the Pentagon has acknowledged that U.S. forces have been engaged in actual combat operations since the end of combat operations was declared in late 2014.

"U.S. Special Forces advisors, while advising and assisting elements of the Afghan Special Security Forces, encountered an insurgent threat in Kunduz city Oct. 1.," Army Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in an email. "U.S. Special Forces returned fire in self-defense to eliminate the threat."

Kunduz cCity fell to the Taliban on Monday. Afghan security forces have been rushed to the city to drive the Taliban out.

"Afghan Security Forces have full responsibility for their operations in Kunduz," Tribus said. "Resolute Support service members, to include special forces, are involved in Kunduz in an advise and assist capacity, as Resolute Support is a non-combat mission. However, our servicemembers have the right to protect themselves if necessary."

Since Tuesday, the U.S. has launched a total of eight airstrikes in support of both U.S. and Afghan forces, Tribus said. The first two airstrikes were on Tuesday, followed by four on Wednesday and two on Thursday.

The Afghan government claimed on Oct. 1 that government forces had liberated Kunduz, but Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told USA Today that the Taliban still controlled the city.

A spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry told Air Force Times that the Taliban were lying about maintaining their hold on Kunduz.

"Off course they can not accept their defeat, but Kunduz city is now under the strong control of Afghan forces, we are continuing to conduct our operations for the whole province in different phases within days to come," Sediq Sediqqi said in an email.

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