August 6, 2011 by USA Post
Chinook Helicopter, A NATO helicopter crashed during a battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, killing 31 U.S. soldiers and seven Afghans, the Afghan president said on Saturday, the deadliest incident for foreign troops in only 10 years of war.
A brief statement from the presidential palace said the Chinook transport helicopter had crashed in troops Syedabad in central Maidan Wardak province, west of the capital, Kabul.
Americans were identified as Special Forces troops. The Taliban quickly claimed to have shot down the helicopter during a firefight, but the Islamic militant group often exaggerates incidents with foreign troops or Afghan government targets. He also said that eight insurgents were killed in fierce fighting.
“They wanted to attack our mujahideen who were in a house, but our mujahideen resist and destroy a helicopter with an RPG (grenade launcher) rocket,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid by telephone from an undisclosed location.
“Eight Mujahideen were martyred and 38 Americans were killed and Today (U.S. soldiers) keep parts of his plane and broken pieces of their bodies.”
U.S. and NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul confirmed officials from a helicopter had crashed on Friday night but gave no further details about the victims or possible causes.
“ISAF is still evaluating the circumstances that led to these deaths and recovery operations are underway,” said U.S. embassy in Kabul in a statement.
U.S. Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, said in a statement that the U.S. “stay the course” to complete the mission in Afghanistan, a sentiment echoed by the Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
“The incident is being investigated at this time as the helicopter belongs to the international forces,” said Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Zaher Azimy Reuters television.
“Obviously that will give more details of the accident and reason.”
He said the Afghans were also killed in a commando unit.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, “shared his deep sorrow and sadness” with his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, and the families of the victims, the statement from the palace.
The deaths came two weeks after the start of a gradual transfer of security forces to foreign troops and Afghan police, and in a time of growing concern about the war increasingly unpopular and costly.
The helicopter crash is likely to raise more questions about the transition process and how long they should stay the troops. All foreign combat troops should be left to the end of 2014, but some U.S. lawmakers whether it’s fast enough.
The crash was the deadliest incident of the war to foreign troops. In April 2005, another CH-47 Chinook crashed, killing 15 U.S. soldiers and three civilian contractors. Another Chinook crash in June of that year killed 17 U.S. soldiers.
Earlier on Saturday, Afghan police said a NATO airstrike killed eight civilians in the Nad Ali district of southern Helmand province on Friday.
Nad Ali Khan district police chief Shidi said the air strike was called after the insurgents attacked ISAF troops in the area. The dead in the attack were members of a family that had fled the fighting in neighboring Uruzgan province, police said.
ISAF confirmed there had been an airstrike in the district and said it was investigating whether civilians were present at the time. It said it had received reports of civilians were abducted by insurgents.
Civilian casualties caused by foreign troops hunting Taliban fighters and other insurgents have long been a major source of friction between Kabul and its Western allies.
Despite the rising cost military, Afghan civilians have followed the most affected by the war; with casualties hit record levels in the first half of this year.
A UN report last month said that 1462 civilians were killed in incidents related to the conflict in the first six months of 2011, 15 percent in the first half of 2010. He blamed insurgents for 80 percent of those deaths.
The province of Helmand where the Taliban continue to dominate several districts, has been the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the war and more foreign soldiers have died there than in any other province. Its capital Lashkar Gah was the most controversial of the first seven areas that were delivered.
In the last month, insurgents have carried out a series of assassinations of high profile leaders of the South, including Karzai’s half-brother, and several large attacks that have killed police and civilians.
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