Twenty-two US troops wounded in Syria helicopter mishap

A US Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter takes off at sunset while transporting American troops out of a remote combat outpost in northeastern Syria. — AFP/File
  • US military does not specify cause of incident or severity of injuries.
  • Central Command says investigation into cause of incident underway.
  • About 900 US personnel are deployed to Syria, most of them in east.

WASHINGTON: Twenty-two US service members were injured in a helicopter “mishap” in northeast Syria on Sunday, the US military said late on Monday, without disclosing the cause of the incident or detailing the severity of the injuries.

The US military’s Central Command said 10 service members were evacuated to higher-level care facilities outside the region.

Central Command, which oversees US troops in the Middle East, said no enemy fire was reported but added that the cause of the incident was under investigation.

Officials at US Central Command did not immediately respond to requests for further information.

About 900 US personnel are deployed to Syria, most of them in the east, as part of a mission fighting the remnants of Daesh. In recent years, American troops there have come under repeated attacks by Iran-backed militia.

On March, 25 US troops were wounded in strikes and counter-strikes in Syria, killing one US contractor and injuring another.

US forces first deployed into Syria during the Obama administration’s campaign against Daesh, partnering with a Kurdish-led group called the Syrian Democratic Forces.

While Daesh is a shadow of the group that ruled over a third of Syria and Iraq in a caliphate declared in 2014, hundreds of fighters are still camped in desolate areas where neither the US-led coalition nor the Syrian army, with support from Russia and Iranian-backed militias, exert full control.

Thousands of other Daesh fighters are in detention facilities guarded by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, America’s key ally in the country.

US officials say that Daesh could still regenerate into a major threat.

The threats from Iran-backed militia to US forces are a reminder of the complex geopolitics of Syria, where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad counts on support from Iran and Russia and sees American troops as occupiers. 

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