FORT BRAGG — U.S. military officials say a decorated Special Forces company sergeant major has died during combat operations in Afghanistan.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command said in a statement Sunday that 40-year-old James G. “Ryan” Sartor was killed Saturday during combat operations in Faryab Province.

Sartor was from Teague, Texas, and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group in Fort Carson, Colorado.

He joined the Army in 2001 as an infantryman and had deployed numerous times to Iraq and Afghanistan. He had received dozens of awards and decorations and will posthumously receive a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

A statement from the Department of Defense says Sartor was injured by enemy small arms fire. The incident is under investigation.

On Saturday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said the militant group was behind the killing, even as U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been holding talks with the Taliban in recent weeks to try and negotiate an end to the war in Afghanistan. The current conflict began in 2001 with the U.S.-led invasion to unseat the Taliban and hunt down al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. After nearly 18 years, it is America’s longest war, in which more than 2,400 American service members have died.

Mujahed said two U.S. service personnel were killed when Taliban militants attacked a tank in Sayed Abad district of central Wardak province, barely 40 miles south of the Afghan capital, Kabul. The discrepancy between the number of fatalities given by the U.S. and the Taliban could not immediately be explained, but the Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

Separately, a gun battle in the capital of Badghis province in the country’s northwest left three police dead, provincial governor Abdul Ghafur Malikzai said. Militants attacked a government compound in the provincial capital, Qala-e-Naw, from a position in a nearby hotel. Hours after the firing began, Malikzai told The Associated Press the attack was over and two militants were killed and two arrested. The number of wounded rose to 20, he said.

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