US service members killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

The US military says two service members killed while the Taliban claim responsibility for downing of the helicopter.

    Roughly 13,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan, 18 years after Washington invaded the country 2001 [File: Reuters]
    Roughly 13,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan, 18 years after Washington invaded the country 2001 [File: Reuters]

    Two United States service members have been killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, the US military said in a statement on Wednesday.

    "The cause of the crash is under investigation, however preliminary reports do not indicate it was caused by enemy fire," the statement said.

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    It did not reveal the crash location and said it was withholding the names of those killed until next of kin could be told.

    The Afghan Taliban, however, claimed responsibility for shooting down the helicopter, which it said crashed in Logar province south of the capital Kabul.

    "US Chinook helicopter shot down and completely destroyed last night while trying to raid Mujahideen (Taliban) position in Pangram area of Sarkh, Logar," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet.

    "The Americans wanted to raid a mujahideen base, but their helicopter was shot down and caught fire. All on board were killed," Mujahid said.

    It was not possible to independently verify the group's claim.    

    Hostage swap

    The Afghan government has ruled out Taliban involvement in the latest incident.

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    The crash comes a day after the Taliban swapped two Western hostages for three of its commanders held by the Afghan government, raising hopes of a thaw in relations between the armed group and coalition forces. 

    Roughly 13,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan, 18 years after Washington invaded the country in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    US President Donald Trump has been eager to withdraw, but General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told US media this month that its forces are likely to remain "for several more years".  

    More than 2,500 Afghan civilians have been killed in the fighting so far this year, according to the United Nations.

    SOURCE: News agencies