While the administration is busy cutting deals with Iran and promoting the troubled Affordable Healthcare Act, six more Americans have died in Afghanistan, marking the highest daily death toll in six months.
The American troops died Tuesday when their helicopter crashed in a desolate area of southern Afghanistan; one soldier is said to have survived.
The chopper went down around 4 p.m. and Afghan soldiers were sent to the remote crash site near the Shajoe District of Zabul Province, a rugged mountainous area 50 miles from Kabul. The Afghans reportedly said there was no enemy activity in the region at the time of the crash. However, predictably, the Taliban claimed responsibility for downing the aircraft. More often than not Americans have died in helicopter crashes due to bad weather or technical difficulties than Taliban activities, even though militants have shot down some helicopters.
“The area is not fully safe — there is enemy movement there, and it is also surrounded by mountains and covered with forest,” said Ghulam Jilani Khan, provincial security chief for Zabul, which neighbors Kandahar and shares a border with Pakistan. “The information we have so far is that it crashed because of technical problems.”
Five American soldiers were killed in March when their helicopter crashed in Kandahar and the next month two more soldiers died in a crash near Nangarhar; neither incident was credited to Taliban activity.
Still, Taliban are responsible for the single deadliest helicopter crash and deadliest day of the war. It happened on August 2011 when Taliban fighters brought down an American Chinook helicopter with rocket-propelled grenades, killing all 38 people aboard. The troop transport helicopter was heavily loaded with 30 American troops including 22 members of a Navy SEAL team, eight Afghan soldiers and combat gear.
About 47,000 American troops remain in Afghanistan and Mr. Obama is still negotiating with his Afghan counterpart on a schedule for American troop withdrawal. All American allies have withdrawn their combat troops, leaving the Americans as the only foreign combat soldiers left in a badly frayed coalition.
Some sources speculate Mr. Obama will leave thousands of troops behind in Afghanistan for many years to come, despite pledging to bring all American troops in Afghanistan home by 2014 during his presidential re-election campaign against Mitt Romney.