31 Special Operations Forces troops killed in Afghanistan

Ravage

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http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/world/asia/07afghanistan.html?_r=4&hp

KABUL, Afghanistan — Insurgents shot down a NATO Chinook helicopter during an overnight operation in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 37 people on board, a coalition military official said on Saturday. It was believed to be the deadliest helicopter crash in the nearly decade-long war, punctuating a surge of violence across the country even as American and NATO forces begin a modest drawdown of troops.
Afghan military officials put the death toll at 38, including 31 Americans and 7 Afghan commandos. President Hamid Karzai’s office, in a statement, described the American casualties as members of the Special Forces. The coalition official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it, confirmed that most of the dead were NATO forces, but could not immediately identify their nationalities or what units they belonged to.
“The president of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has expressed his condolences to the U.S. President Barack Obama and to the families of the victims,” Mr. Karzai’s office said in a statement.
The helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in the Tangi valley of the Wardak Province just west of Kabul, the coalition official said. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack.
If confirmed, Saturday’s crash would be the deadliest day for American forces since the war began. A NATO spokesman, Capt. Justin Brockhoff of the United States Air Force, confirmed the crash but could provide no further information, including what caused the crash or whether there were casualties.
There were conflicting accounts on when the helicopter went down. A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, said insurgents shot down the helicopter around 11 p.m. Friday as it was starting an operation on a house where the militants were gathering in the Tangi Joyee region of the district of Saidabad in the eastern part of the province. Eight militants were killed in the fight that continued after the helicopter fell, he said.
“The fresh reports from the site tells us that there are still Americans doing search operations for the bodies and pieces of the helicopter are on the ground,” Mr. Mujahid said.
Although the nationality of the NATO soldiers killed was not confirmed, Americans were known to be carrying out most of operations in the area.
Gen. Abdul Qayum Baqizoy, police chief of Wardak, said the operation began around 1 a.m. Saturday as NATO and Afghan forces attacked a Taliban compound in Jaw-e-mekh Zareen village in the Tangi valley. The firefight lasted at least two hours, the general said.
“It was at the end of the operation that one of the NATO helicopters crashed,” he said. “We don’t know yet the cause of the crash and we don’t know how many NATO soldiers were on board.”
The Tangi valley runs along the border of Wardak and the neighboring province of Logar. Taliban activity has been heavy in both provinces, which border the capital of Kabul.
Prior to Saturday, the biggest single-day loss of life for the American military in Afghanistan came on June 28, 2005 during Operation Red Wing in Kunar Province, when a Chinook helicopter carrying Special Operations troops was shot down in eastern Kunar Province as it tried to provide reinforcements to forces trapped in heavy fighting. Sixteen Special Operations troops, most of them Navy Seals, were killed in the crash. Three more Seals were killed in fighting on the ground.
 

Jay

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Don't think anyone has posted this yet, saw it first thing when I woke up this morning on RescueAthlete.com's Facebook page. RIP Gentlemen, I can only hope and pray those responsible are brought to justice in a swift and painful manner. My thoughts and prayers go out to those troops and their families and loved ones.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/storie...ME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-08-06-06-27-19

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A military helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing 31 U.S. special operation troops and seven Afghan commandos, the country's president said Saturday. An American official said it was apparently shot down, in the deadliest single incident for American forces in the decade-long war.

The Taliban claimed they downed the helicopter with rocket fire while it was taking part in a raid on a house where insurgents were gathered in the province of Wardak late Friday. It said wreckage of the craft was strewn at the scene.

NATO confirmed the overnight crash took place and that there "was enemy activity in the area." But it said it was still investigating the cause and conducting a recovery operation at the site. It did not release details or casualty figures.

"We are in the process of accessing the facts," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Justin Brockhoff, a NATO spokesman.

But a senior U.S. administration official in Washington said it was apparently shot down. by insurgents. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the crash is still being investigated.
The toll would surpass the worst single day loss of life for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001 - the June 28, 2005 downing of a military helicopter in eastern Kunar province. In that incident, 16 Navy SEALs and Army special operations troops were killed when their craft was shot down while on a mission to rescue four SEALs under attack by the Taliban. Three of the SEALs being rescued were also killed and the fourth wounded. It was the highest one-day death toll for the Navy Special Warfare personnel since World War II.

With its steep mountain ranges, providing shelter for militants armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, eastern Afghanistan is hazardous terrain for military aircraft. Large, slow-moving air transport carriers like the CH-47 Chinook are particularly vulnerable, often forced to ease their way through sheer valleys where insurgents can achieve more level lines of fire from mountainsides.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday gave the first public word of the new crash, saying in a statement that "a NATO helicopter crashed last night in Wardak province" and that 31 American special operations troops were killed. He expressed his condolences to President Barack Obama.
The helicopter was a twin-rotor Chinook, said an official at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was receiving his information from an Afghan officer in Kabul.

The crash took place in the Sayd Abad district of Wardak province, said a provincial government spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid. The volatile region borders the province of Kabul where the Afghan capital is located and is known for its strong Taliban presence.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement that Taliban fighters downed the helicopter during a "heavy raid" in Sayd Abad. He said NATO attacked a house in Sayd Abad where insurgent fighters were gathering Friday night. During the battle, the fighters shot down the helicopter, killing 31 Americans and seven Afghans, he said, adding that eight insurgents were killed in the fight.
There have been at least 17 coalition and Afghan aircraft crashes in Afghanistan this year.
Most of the crashes were attributed to pilot errors, weather conditions or mechanical failures. However, the coalition has confirmed that at least one CH-47F Chinook helicopter was hit by a rocket propelled grenade on July 25. Two coalition crew members were injured in that attack.
Meanwhile, in the southern Helmand province, an Afghan government official said Saturday that NATO troops attacked a house and inadvertently killed eight members of a family, including women and children.

NATO said that Taliban fighters fired rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire at coalition troops during a patrol Friday in the Nad Ali district.
"Coalition forces responded with small arms fire and as the incident continued, an air strike was employed against the insurgent position," said Brockhoff. He added that NATO sent a delegation to meet with local leaders and investigate the incident.
Nad Ali district police chief Shadi Khan said civilians died in the bombardment but that it was unknown how many insurgents were killed.

Helmand, a Taliban stronghold, is the deadliest province in Afghanistan for international troops.
NATO has come under harsh criticism in the past for accidentally killing civilians during operations against suspected insurgents. However, civilian death tallies by the United Nations show the insurgency is responsible for most war casualties involving noncombatants.
In south Afghanistan, NATO said two coalition service member were killed, one on Friday and another on Saturday. The international alliance did not release further details.
With the casualties from the helicopter crash, the deaths bring to 365 the number of coalition troops killed this year in Afghanistan and 42 this month.
 

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Echo

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A helicopter crash in Afghanistan killed 31 Americans, including as many as 25 Navy SEALs in one of the worst single-day U.S. losses of life since the war began, a senior military official told ABC News early this morning.

A total of 38 people were on board the Chinook helicopter when it crashed overnight in the eastern Afghan province of Wardak.

Initial reports indicate up to 25 Navy SEALs were on the aircraft at the time.
It was also carrying seven Afghan Special Forces troops, one interpreter, five member helicopter crew and one dog.

Troops were apparently involved in a raid at the time.

"We are aware of an incident involving a helicopter in eastern Afghanistan," U.S. Air Force Capt. Justin Brockhoff, a NATO spokesman, told the Associated Press. "We are in the process of accessing the facts."

Although the Taliban have claimed to have shot the helicopter down, the exact cause of the crash is still under investigation.

On July 25, a Chinook was hit by a rocket propelled grenade fired by the Taliban. It launched in the belly of the aircraft which made a hard landing and only two soldiers were injured in that attack but this time all on board were killed.

Saturday's deaths bring the total number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan to 334 this year, according to the Associated Press.

The last worst one-day U.S. casuality record in Afghanistan was on June 28, 2005 when 16 U.S. soldiers were killed in Kunar province after a helicopter was shot down by Taliban insurgents.
Afghan President Karzai's office released a statement on the incident.

"A NATO helicopter crashed last night in Wardak province," Karzai said in the statement. "President Karzai expressed his deep condolences because of this incident and expressed his sympathy to Barack Obama."

President Obama offered his thoughts and prayers to those killed in the crash.

"Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan," Obama said in a statement. "We will draw inspiration from their lives, and continue the work of securing our country and standing up for the values that they embodied. We also mourn the Afghans who died alongside our troops in pursuit of a more peaceful and hopeful future for their country. At this difficult hour, all Americans are united in support of our men and women in uniform who serve so that we can live in freedom and security."

-ABC News
 
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