A US soldier died after the helicopter they were in crashed in Afghanistan, foreign forces said Saturday, denying Taliban claims that it had shot down the aircraft.
Six other US crew members were injured in the accident late Friday in Logar province, south of Kabul, NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan said in a statement.
The death brought the number of US soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan — where they are supposed to be in a non-combat role — so far this year to 11, two above the tally for the whole of 2016.
“A US service member has died as a result of injuries sustained during a helicopter crash,”Resolute Support said.
US battlefield deaths have been relatively rare since the transfer of primary responsibility to Afghan forces at the end of 2014.
The Taliban, which has waged a 16-year insurgency against foreign forces and their Afghan counterparts, said on Twitter that its militants brought down the aircraft.
But provincial governor spokesman Salim Saleh told AFP the helicopter hit a tree after a “successful” operation to support ground troops in Kharwar district.
“When the foreign forces were leaving the area, their helicopter hit a tree and crashed. The forces cordoned off the area for hours to take their wounded soldiers out of the area,” he said.
The last US soldier to be killed in action died in August during an operation targeting Islamic State group insurgents in restive eastern Afghanistan.
US forces continue to provide air support for Afghanistan’s fledgling security forces, who are struggling to beat back the Taliban and IS militants.
As part of a new strategy outlined by US President Donald Trump in August, America is sending more than 3,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, on top of the 11,000 already deployed there, to help Afghan forces.
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