The remains of the U.S. special operations troops killed when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan arrived today at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Marine Colonel David Lapan, a Defense Department spokesman, said.
The 30 dead included 22 U.S. Navy SEAL commandos, most from the elite unit once known as SEAL Team Six that carried out the May raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, two U.S. officials said Aug. 7 on condition of anonymity.
None of those killed were from the SEAL Team Six squadron involved in the bin Laden raid, they said. The SEAL team is now formally known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group.
The Afghanistan helicopter crash was the biggest loss of U.S. troops in a single engagement since the start of the war in October 2001. Seven Afghan commandos and a civilian interpreter were also killed.
Because the remains haven’t been specifically identified and family members aren’t in position to grant public access to the transfer, the arrival was closed under Defense Department policy, Lapan said. The bodies will be identified at the military mortuary at Dover, according to a Pentagon statement yesterday.
NATO said the helicopter carrying the special operations troops was destroyed as it was flying into a firefight that had targeted a Taliban leader.
NATO suspects that the CH-47 was downed by an unguided rocket-propelled grenade, not a more advanced heat-seeking shoulder-fired missile that might have indicated a new level of Taliban capability, Lapan said yesterday.
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