|US forces said they tracked fighters responsible for Saturday’s attack, calling in an air strike on Monday [GALLO/GETTY]|
An air strike by NATO-led forces in Afghanistan has reportedly killed Taliban fighters, including a local leader, who were responsible for a weekend helicopter crash that left dozens of US navy SEALs and Afghan troops dead.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement: “The [Wednesday] strike killed Taliban leader Mullah Mohibullah and the insurgent who fired the shot associated with the Aug 6 downing of the CH-47 helicopter, which resulted in the deaths of 38 Afghan and coalition service members.”
The statement did not say explicitly that the Taliban fighters had shot the helicopter down, although it was the clearest indication yet from NATO sources that it was the likely cause.
The top US commander in Afghanistan also spoke about Monday’s retaliatory mission.
“At approximately midnight on 8 August, coalition forces killed the Taliban insurgents responsible for this attack … We dealt with them in a kinetic strike,” General John Allen, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told reporters at the Pentagon.
Allen also described the Saturday mission in depth for the first time, saying that the helicopter had been sent as a part of an operation targeting a Taliban leader.
The attack took down a Chinook helicopter in the remote Tangi Valley in Afghanistan’s Wardak province, causing the biggest loss of life for the US and its allies in a single day in the 10-year-long war.
When elements of the Taliban fighters were seen “escaping”, the Chinook helicopter, carrying Navy SEAL commandos and Afghan soldiers, was ordered in to head them off, said Allen.
The helicopter was then shot out of the sky with a rocket-propelled grenade.
US forces then tracked the fighters they said were responsible, calling in an air strike on Monday night with a F-16 fighter jet.
The Taliban leader originally targeted in Friday’s mission was not killed, Allen said.
There have been at least 17 coalition and Afghan aircraft crashes in Afghanistan this year.