Three US helicopters were downed across Afghanistan today, killing 14 Americans, including 11 soldiers and three embassy officials. DEA personnel were also reportedly among the slain, and were apparently included by officials in the “soldiers” toll.
The deadliest incident was in Badghis Province, in which Taliban reportedly shot down a helicopter, killing 10 Americans and also wounding 11 other US soldiers, a US civilian, and 14 Afghans.
The US denied that the Taliban has actually downed the helicopter, claiming the crash was due to “unconfirmed reasons” but insisting that it had nothing to do with the Taliban.
The two other helicopters lost today were in the restive Helmand Province, and apparently collided with one another before crashing to the ground, leaving four US soldiers dead and two others wounded. The Taliban likewise claimed to have been firing on the helicopters when they collided.
Though it is impossible to ascertain what actually happened, the Taliban seems eager to take credit for all the downings and the US seems eager to insist all three were accidents. While it is clear the Taliban would gain credibility from being able to down three US military helicopters in one morning, it is unclear what the US gains from claiming the level of incompetence that would allow it to lose three helicopters and cause dozens of casualties through sheer happenstance.