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US forces plane crashes in Taliban-held area in Afghanistan

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — A US forces plane crashed in Afghanistan in circumstances still mysterious in a Taliban-held area, and while the insurgents stressed “its downing tactically,” the Pentagon denied that there were “any indications” that it might come under enemy fire.

“A special plane of the American occupiers has crashed in Ghazni province,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, adding that all crew members were killed.

He later told AFP by telephone that the plane had been “tactically shot down”, without explaining how it was shot down.

Hours later, the US Department of Defense confirmed that it was a US military aircraft.

“An American Bombardier E-11A plane crashed in Ghazni province, Afghanistan,” Colonel Sony Legit, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said in a tweet.

The aircraft of this type provide support for surveillance drones, and is equipped with advanced communications equipment.

“The cause of the plane crash is being investigated, but there is no indication that this is due to enemy fire,” the spokesman added, noting that “the Taliban’s assurances that another plane was destroyed are false assertions.”

Whether the plane was caused by an accident or a war act, it comes at a time when discussions are taking place between the Taliban and the United States about the terms of an agreement allowing the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees from the rebels.

And the Taliban movement is seeking to reach an end of January an agreement with the Americans that guarantees the departure of American forces from the country, and it is ready to “reduce” its military operations in compliance with Washington’s terms for signing an agreement, according to a spokesman for the movement last week.

For his part, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, Ruhullah Ahmadzai, told France Presse that the plane “does not belong to the Afghan Air Force, nor to the intelligence service, nor to the Ministry of Defense or the Interior.”

Videos and photos posted by a Twitter account close to the Taliban show that AFP was unable to verify the authenticity of the wreckage of a medium-sized plane that fell in a snow-covered field. The tail of the plane appeared intact with the logo of the US Air Force.

According to the Taliban, the plane was “flying on a surveillance mission”. This type of aircraft is used by the US Air Force in Afghanistan for electronic surveillance.

In one of the videos circulated on social networks, which France Press has not been able to independently verify, villagers gather around the plane that flies out of its structure.

A plane based in Kandahar

The local authorities announced the crash about 13:00. Later, the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement, “No commercial aircraft crash has been recorded.”

According to the identification number that appears clearly on the back of the airframe and its front, it is an E11A that is manufactured by the Canadian Air Force Bombardier. These aircraft are stationed in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan.

The accident occurred in the De Yak area, to the east of Ghazni. The Taliban largely controls the area, with the exception of cities, making it difficult to send relief teams and investigators.

Military aircraft crashes, especially helicopters, are repeated in Afghanistan due to the country’s rugged mountainous terrain and poor weather conditions, but are often recorded among Afghan forces.

And the American forces control the airspace in Afghanistan, which gives them freedom of movement and enables them to provide support to the local forces, especially since the Taliban do not have effective air strikes.

The direct negotiations between the United States and the Taliban began about a year ago, but Washington suspended them twice, the first after an attack that killed an American soldier, and the second after a Taliban attack on the Bagram military base used by American forces.

For weeks, Washington has required a cessation of violence to resume formal negotiations on an agreement stipulating the exit of US forces from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees aimed at finding a solution to the two-decade-old conflict.

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