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Military Aircraft Crash in Iraq Highlights Dangers Troops Face Each Day

This report originally published at defense.gov.


Yesterday’s military aircraft crash in Iraq highlights the dangers service members face every day, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning III told reporters today.

An American service member died in the crash, and several others were injured.

“The aircraft was conducting a partnered counterterrorism mission against [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] in support of Operation Inherent Resolve,” Manning said.

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All personnel were recovered by coalition personnel immediately after the incident, the colonel said, adding that there are no indications that hostile fire caused the crash.

Three personnel were evacuated for further treatment after the incident. U.S. troops are recovering the aircraft in close cooperation with their Iraqi counterparts.

The incident is under investigation, the colonel said.

Solemn Reminder

“This most-recent event is a solemn reminder of the inherent danger of our business, and the risk that our personnel are put in daily around the world,” Manning said.

The colonel noted that in the U.S. Central Command area of operations alone, there are about 5,200 personnel operating in Iraq, 2,000 in Syria and 14,000 in Afghanistan. American forces, he said, continue to work with coalition, Iraqi and Syrian allies to defeat ISIS.

“The coalition’s presence is designed to meet our partners’ support requirements,” Manning said. “We have what we need and will take forces out of theater when the job is done.”

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The colonel said American and Turkish forces are carrying out the Manbij Roadmap in the northern part of Syria. U.S. and Turkish forces are conducting independent — but coordinated — patrols along the military demarcation line outside Manbij city. “Enacting combined patrols will require significant rehearsal to ensure commonality of battle drills, responses and terms of reference,” Manning said. “We still have a few details to work out.”

Interoperability training for the combined patrols should start shortly, DoD officials said. “These arrangements take time, and we will not compromise safety by prematurely implementing combined patrols,” Manning said.

Turning to Afghanistan, Manning said the U.S. military welcomes Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s call for a cease-fire with the Taliban. The Taliban must understand the only way forward is through negotiations, the colonel said.

He stressed that the cease-fire would not include ISIS-Khorasan, al-Qaida or other regional groups. U.S. counterterrorism experts will continue to go after these terrorists, he said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)

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