First on CNN: U.S. says Taliban behind deadly helicopter crash in Afghanistan
January 9th, 2014
02:48 PM ET

First on CNN: U.S. says Taliban behind deadly helicopter crash in Afghanistan

By Barbara Starr

CNN has learned the U.S. military has concluded that Taliban insurgents brought down a Black Hawk helicopter in Afghanistan on December 17, killing six American troops on board.

It was the single deadliest day for U.S. forces in Afghanistan since a helicopter wreck killed seven Americans and four Afghans in August 2012.

That conclusion follows weeks of confusion and conflicting intelligence reports about what was behind the crash.

Three U.S. officials tell CNN that an enemy-generated explosion brought down the helicopter in Zabul province.

Two officials say it's possible the low-flying helicopter set off an improved explosive device on the ground. If that is the case, it could pose new challenges for U.S. helicopter operations in the war zone, the officials said. They all declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information.

In response to questions from CNN, the International Security Assistance Force responded via e-mail, saying "the families of the soldiers killed in the December 17 helicopter crash have been notified that enemy action caused the crash and loss of life. Although the investigation is not yet complete, we informed the families at this time out of respect so they know how their loved ones died. The investigation is ongoing, and more details will be provided when the investigation is complete."

The assessment is based on a variety of evidence collected. The crew of another helicopter flying nearby reported seeing a flash but did not see enemy forces on the ground at the time. One surviving crew member has also been interviewed. And investigators have also closely analyzed debris on the ground and damage to the aircraft.

The incident generated extensive confusion at the highest levels of the military, leading to unusual sensitivity about discussing it. Initially, military officials cited potential mechanical failure and said there was no evidence of enemy activity. Then officials said reports had surfaced about whether the troops may have come under mortar fire after surviving the crash. Then some officials said those reports were not accurate, either.

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. NNN

    You're going to get anything out of the military except the truth. The top brass always has ulterior motives. In this case it sounds like they're pushing for many more billions of unproductive funding for IED research and development to counter this new speculative threat. The helicopter either suffered an ordinary catastrophic failure or it was sabotaged.

    January 12, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Reply
    • Terrence Healy

      As an American I am sick and tired of hearing these Ragheads killed American troops. I have personally written to the defense department and told them we should build low Yield Neutron bombs that could take out 5 to 20 square miles.
      We use satellites to pinpoint those goat herders and then Nuke them, DONE. They are located in areas where no one would normally go to begin with so civilians are safe. In their Religion it is a big no no to touch a pig. The US should air drop about 100 thousand wild Board up in the mountains, along with Rattle Snakes in the areas where they are detected. We should be flying thousands of drones in these area's to save American lives.

      January 16, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Reply
    • melinda

      our great men over there in afghanistan that brave men , who are they were kill in the helicopter boming today ;hopely not a dear friend to me stg,major, jack tilley,havent heard form im ?;we should be proud of theres men fighting for our freedom

      February 18, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  2. Samuelnaija

    I think the american has tried alot they should go back home and protect their citizens.

    January 12, 2014 at 7:49 am | Reply
  3. CALIFORNIA

    Democrats are nothing more than the New Black Panther party.

    January 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  4. California

    Obama said we won against these people already so this can't be true.

    January 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Reply
    • Some guy

      what does winning mean, you can never win against groups fighting insurgencies, the only way is for the insurgency to stop fighting themselves. This is essentially taking pot shots, but they wont be able to actually undertake offensives and take back the country. But they can continue to take pot shots for decades, it doesnt mean the war is still ongoing. The way the pot shots stop is they either get back in power (not happening) or they dont get any recruits anymore because people are too busy just living their life (more likely to happen). We have a say in how fast that happens. If we truly help the country stand on its feet, giving people jobs, infrastructure, etc, thisll die down a lot faster than if we keep giving money to corrupt officials (both within US, allied governments, and Afghanistan). Dont rape their resources and let them benefit from them.

      January 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Reply
  5. Smitty

    Kinda odd, now that the election is over they are not on the run ??? More lies from the BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR WINNER

    January 10, 2014 at 10:46 am | Reply
  6. acnnmod

    why did cnn just throw some random picture with a different helicopter in it for this article? lazy reporting maybe?

    January 10, 2014 at 8:12 am | Reply
  7. Ricksanchez1

    We won't be concerned with this as the wardrums have long since turned to Syria and Iran. We've plundered enough in Afghanistan so its time to move on, in the quest for continued profits, I mean spreading of democracy...

    January 9, 2014 at 10:00 pm | Reply
  8. George patton

    Quite a surprise since the top brass usually never admits that the Taliban has the capacity to bring down any American aircraft. Could this be a turn around in this obnoxious war? Whichever the case, we have absolutely no business being there!!!

    January 9, 2014 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  9. denverboy

    Sound about average for our Commanders .. They are clueless while directing the Soldiers the real men and women of our military .. Kind of scary if you look at it from a enlisted point of view . It makes our Commanders look .. well.. stupid and unsure of anything . How can we fight a war and protect out service men and women that way .. We cannot and have not for about 13 years now .. No one has a clue what's going on and in the end when there unsure.. Instead of saying they don't KNOW or do not have enough information ..... THEY LIE ... It's the American way

    January 9, 2014 at 7:08 pm | Reply
  10. Random

    Ok , who sponsored the taliban, who gave the go ahead because these terrorist groups operate just like a national guard. Nothing just happens , someone says do something. Bottom line is we have an ally that is the C&C for the gihad. They need some shock and awe. The invincibility you see in their eyes is because their C&C goes unscathed. Just like the mob knees dont get broken with out an ok. Where did OBL hail from? Where is it likely the others are. Change their minds in the traditional way.

    January 9, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  11. Fish

    I have already offered an out of Afghanistan, simply have the UN request a conference to address the issues top to bottom, the primary issue I'll bet will be the borders. Afghanistan is a UN created country without regard to tribal borders or land holdings nor leadership!!! Get them all at a summit, conference etc.. and begin a plan of healing instead of fighting, each side must be heard and each must be respected. Once all factors are considered this nation can resolved peacefully!!!

    January 9, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Reply
    • Chris

      Having served in Afghanistan I agree with you. When talking with any Afghan they do not see themselves as Afghans. They are tribal and that is where the loyalty is. The country would be much better off as a land of provinces.

      January 9, 2014 at 9:53 pm | Reply
  12. Marmax718

    The US needs to get the hell out of there, secure our borders and protect the American people.

    January 9, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Reply
    • simplefaith

      I agree with you.

      January 9, 2014 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  13. Heidi

    My husband is a Blackhawk pilot and this kind of news always makes our close-knit community so upset. I mourn for the families and their tremendous loss.

    January 9, 2014 at 3:02 pm | Reply
    • simplefaith

      I will keep all of you and our military fighters in my prayers always. Stay strong.

      January 9, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Reply

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