Monday, 8 August 2011

2nd NATO copter crashes in Afghanistan

A second helicopter belonging to the US-led NATO coalition has crashed in eastern Afghanistan while another has made a hard landing in Paktia province.

According to officials, a NATO helicopter crashed in eastern Zarmat city in Paktia province on Monday, but the possible number of casualties are not known, a Press TV correspondent reported.

However, the Taliban claim that at least 33 US soldiers have been killed in the second downing.

The NATO forces have cordoned off the scene of the incident, witnesses told Press TV.

The incident came in the wake of a similar incident on Saturday, which claimed the lives of 31 US forces.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Saturday helicopter crash, but NATO said it has started an investigation into the incident.



BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhuanet) --The US Navy Seals who were killed in Saturday's helicopter crash were on a mission to help Army Rangers who had come under fire. The incident has brought attention to the role of special operations forces in Afghanistan, who are expected to take a more leading role as the US draws down its troop numbers.

A rescue mission ends in tragedy.

Over the weekend, a Navy Seal rescue team had subdued attackers who had pinned down Rangers and were departing in their Chinook helicopter when the aircraft was apparently hit.

Afghanistan has more US special operations troops, about 10,000, than any other theater of war. The forces, often joined by Afghan troops, are among the most effective weapons in the coalition's arsenal. They conduct surveillance, infiltration, capture missions and night raids.

Special forces are frequently used to target insurgent commanders as part of an effort to force the Taliban's leadership to agree to a negotiated peace.

According to NATO, from April to July this year, over 2,800 special operations raids captured some 3000 insurgents and killed nearly a thousand, twice as many as during the same time period last year.

SEALs, Rangers, and other special operations troops are expected to be the vanguard of the American military effort in Afghanistan as international military forces start pulling out.

By the time combat troops have left the country, the coalition will have handed security to Afghan forces they have spent tens of billions of dollars arming and training.

Special operations troops are expected to remain in the country after 2014 for counterterrorism missions and advisory support. Just how many will remain has not yet been determined in negotiations with the Afghan government, but the United States is considering a figure around 5,000 to 20,000, far fewer than the 100,000 U.S. troops there now.