[Marxism] More than 20 of SEALs in Osama kill die in Afg. helicopter shootdown

Fred Feldman ffeldman at verizon.net
Sat Aug 6 11:41:00 MDT 2011

Saturday, Aug 6, 2011 12:09 ET
SEALs who caught Osama among those killed
31 die in downed helicopter; worse loss of life in Afghanistan since war 
By SOLOMON MOORE, Associated Press

A US Marine tries to take cover, trying to shelter from the dust as a 
Chinook helicopter arrives to pick up supplies at Forward Operating Base 
Edi in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan, in this June 9, 
2011 file photo.The Associated Press has learned that more than 20 Navy 
SEALs from the unit that killed Osama bin Laden were among the 31 U.S. 
soldiers lost in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

The operators from SEAL Team Six were flown by a crew of the 160th 
Special Operations Aviation Regiment. That's according to one current 
and one former U.S. official. Both spoke on condition of anonymity 
because families are still being notified of the loss of their loved 
ones. One source says the team was thought to include 22 SEALs, three 
Air Force air controllers, seven Afghan Army troops, a dog and his 
handler, and a civilian interpreter, plus the helicopter crew.

The helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing a total of 31 
U.S. 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.

President Barack Obama mourned the deaths of the American troops, saying 
in a statement that the crash serves as a reminder of the "extraordinary 
sacrifices" being made by the U.S. military and its families. He said he 
also mourned "the Afghans who died alongside our troops."

The death 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 

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.


Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor and Mark S. Smith contribute 
to this report from Washington.

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