In the persistent war in Afghanistan it was the largest loss of a life among U.S. military personnel in a single incident, the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday
A U.S. Chinook helicopter carrying 31 American troops and 7 Afghani soldiers was shot down by Taliban militants on the outskirts of Kabul. There were no survivors.
A NATO spokesperson said that recovery efforts were underway on Saturday and that the crash site had been secured. However, the strike is seen as a confidence builder for Taliban units operating in Afghanistan.
Among the U.S. soldiers killed, 22 were identified as SEAL personnel belonging to the same team that had killed Osama bin Laden in May. While none of the SEAL team members killed participated in the bin Laden raid, it is believed that they were being deployed to neutralize a high-value target in Afghanistan.
"Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan," President Barack Obama said in a statement, according to the Associated Press
The U.S. military has lost over 1,700 soldiers in Afghanistan since the war began there in 2001, according to iCasualties
. But the Chinook downing is a brutal reminder of the dangers facing NATO forces in the hostile terrain of Afghanistan and the determination of the insurgency there.
In 2011 alone, there have been 17 reports of aircraft crashes among coalition and Afghan forces throughout Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported. However, most of those incidents were attributed to pilot error.