Two U.S. service members have been killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
While the Taliban is claiming credit for shooting down the aircraft, U.S. Forces Afghanistan claims the crash was not caused by incoming fire.
“Two U.S. service members were killed in a helicopter crash on November 20, 2019, in Afghanistan,” U.S. Forces Afghanistan said, per ABC News.
NEW: Two U.S. service members killed in helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
U.S. military officials said "preliminary reports do not indicate it was caused by enemy fire." https://t.co/MZKVlVzkve
— ABC News (@ABC) November 20, 2019
“The cause of the crash is under investigation, however preliminary reports do not indicate it was caused by enemy fire,” the statement continued.
ABC News adds:
No other details were provided by U.S. military officials about the circumstances of the deadly crash or where in Afghanistan it took place.
The two deaths bring to 19 the number of U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan this year — the deadliest year for U.S. forces there in five years.
The U.S. military statement said that in accordance with Defense Department policy the names of the service members would not be disclosed until 24 hours after their next of kin have been notified.
According to the report, there are still 13,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, though most are not involved in active combat situations. Most of the troops are instructed to train, advise, or otherwise assist Afghan forces.
Despite Trump announcing that he intends to withdraw all U.S. troops from the region, peace talks between the United States and the Taliban and the Afghan government have failed to materialize.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the recent release of two hostages, one American and one Australian, was a “good step” towards peace, “but it’s only that.”
“But it’s good. I think they’ll build confidence, there are a handful more that we hope will happen in the next few days, some Afghan prisoners who we hope will be released, a handful things after that,” Pompeo continued per the report.
“We hope they’ll begin to build a foundation that we can get comfortable that a peace and reconciliation process has an opportunity of being successful,” he added. “We’ve been working hard at it, we’re still working hard at it.”