US Presses On, After Deadly Helicopter Crash

Posted August 9th, 2011 at 7:35 am (UTC-5)
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The remains of U.S. soldiers killed in a helicopter crash Saturday in central Afghanistan are set to be returned to the U.S., as American officials say the incident will not derail the war effort.

The remains are expected to arrive Tuesday at Dover Air Force Base, where the Defense Department says a ceremony will be closed to the media because the bodies are still being identified.

The Chinook transport helicopter crashed during an anti-Taliban operation in the remote Tangi Valley, killing 30 U.S. troops, seven Afghan commandos and an Afghan interpreter. The American troops include 22 personnel from the elite U.S. Navy SEALS.

The crash is the worst loss of life suffered by U.S. forces in a single incident from the decade-long war.

In Washington Monday, President Barack Obama said the loss of the 30 American troops is “a stark reminder” of the risks that U.S. forces take every day.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that as heavy a loss as this was, it would be even more tragic if it were allowed to derail efforts to defeat al-Qaida and deny the terrorist group a safe haven in Afghanistan.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said the downing of the helicopter was a single combat incident and did not represent any watershed or trend in the war against the Taliban.

Violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001, with international troop and Afghan civilian deaths reaching record levels.