US-Led Forces Kill Taliban Militants Behind Helicopter Attack

Posted August 10th, 2011 at 7:30 pm (UTC-5)
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The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan says coalition forces killed the Taliban militants responsible for last week's helicopter crash in which 30 American and eight Afghan troops died. He also says the insurgent leader who was the target of the initial operation remains at large.

In a videoconference from Kabul Wednesday, General John Allen said his forces had followed the insurgents since the August 6 incident. He said a precision air strike Tuesday hit a group of Taliban militants and killed several, including their leader, Mullah Mohibullah, and another insurgent who fired the fatal shot at the CH-47 helicopter in the Tangi Valley. Mohibullah and the shooter were attempting to flee the country to avoid capture at the time of their demise.

It was the worst loss of life for the United States in a single incident during the decade-long war in Afghanistan.

General Allen said a probe is under way to review the circumstances surrounding the crash. He noted that while a rocket-propelled grenade was at least partly to blame, small arms fire also may have played a role.

In Washington Wednesday, the Pentagon said U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has decided to release the names of the fallen American soldiers, despite objections from officers at U.S. Special Operations Command. Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan said he expected the names to be published by Thursday.

Meanwhile, NATO said one of its service members died in a bomb blast in southern Afghanistan Wednesday.

U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Tuesday to pay his respects as the remains of the fallen American soldiers, including 22 elite Navy SEALs, were brought home on two military cargo planes.

President Obama later met with about 250 family and friends of the dead who had gathered at the base, and expressed his condolences and gratitude for the troops' sacrifice.