Navy SEALs unit which killed Bin Laden loses 22 men in Afghan helicopter crash

In a signal strategic achievement, the Afghan Taliban shot down a US Chinook helicopter killing 31 US troops and 7 Afghan commandos in the rugged Wardak province east of Kabul early Saturday, Aug. 5.
Among them were 22 members of the elite Navy SEAL Six, the same unit which killed Osama bin Laden in May. This was the single largest US loss of life in the Afghan war. US military sources say it is unlikely that any of those who took part in that operation were aboard the helicopter. Even so, the Taliban who downed the Chinook apparently with a rocket-propelled grenade will be able to claim they made good on their vow to avenge the al Qaeda leader's death.

Downing a helicopter apparently by a rocket-propelled grenade, which is not a standard anti-aircraft weapon, indicates that the Taliban has perfected methods for shooting down low-flying American helicopters with the basic weapons in their possession.
As the investigation begins on the incident, there are conflicting reports about the mission performed by the men aboard.
According to a US military source, they we returning from an operation in which eight insurgents were believed to have been killed. A Taliban insurgent present at the crash scene told Western correspondents the helicopter was not leaving but arriving: "What we saw was that when we were having our pre-dawn (Ramadan) meal, Americans landed some soldiers for an early raid. The other helicopter also came for the raid," Mohammad Walil Wardag said. "We were outside our rooms on a veranda and saw this helicopter flying very low, it was hit by a rocket and it was on fire. It started coming down and crashed just away form our home close to the river."

So far this year, 365 coalition troops have died in Afghanistan, 42 in July.
The news of the helicopter crash and fatalities reached Washington as the Obama administration was still reeling from the Stand & Poor's downgrade of America's credit rating for the first time ever from AAA to AA+. It piled a military calamity on top of a body blow to the American economy.
It also placed in doubt President Barack Obama's claim in recent weeks that the US-led coalition had been able to halt Taliban's "military momentum."  Indeed in the very areas that NATO combat forces have begun to hand over security control to local forces, Taliban are redoubling their attacks.

The 140,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan – about 100,000 of them American, are due to all leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and some withdrawals have already taken place.
debkafile's military sources report that despite the hints from the White House that the US is in direct talks with the Taliban for ending the war, what these contacts amount to is field commanders interacting with insurgents on a local level – not so far talks with the Taliban high command and its leader Mullah Omar. A negotiated end to the Afghan war is therefore not in sight.

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