SHAFAQNA- While, the US military has confirmed that one of its aircraft crashed in eastern Afghanistan but said there was “no indication the crash was caused by enemy fire”. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the downing of a “special American aircraft” flying over Afghanistan on what it described as an intelligence mission. Russian intelligence sources have confirmed that Michael D’Andrea, the head of US intelligence operations against Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan who was responsible for the assassination of Iran’s top commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, was apparently among the officers on board the plane.
The US Bombardier E-11A went down early on Monday afternoon and was initially mistaken by Afghan authorities for a passenger jet. But footage, purportedly from the wreckage site, soon emerged, showing the US air force insignia on a charred fuselage.
“While the cause of crash is under investigation, there are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire,” a spokesman for the US military in Afghanistan tweeted. “Taliban claims that additional aircraft have crashed are false”, The Guardian reported.
Colonel Sonny Leggett gave no information on casualties in the crash. But, Russian intelligence sources have confirmed that Michael D’Andrea, the head of US intelligence operations against Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, has been killed in Taliban’s shoot-down of a US military plane in Ghazni.
D’Andrea, who was responsible for the assassination of Iran’s top commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, was apparently among the officers on board the plane, the Veterans Today website reports, quoting Russian intelligence sources. D’Andrea is the most prominent figure of the CIA intelligence in the region, Ifpnews reported.
The crash happened on Monday in the Taliban-controlled Sado Khel area of the Deh Yak district in Ghazni province, the militant group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said in a message via WhatsApp. “A special American aircraft which was flying over Afghanistan for an intelligence mission was tactically shot down by the Taliban,” Mujahed said. “All on board including high-ranking CIA officers were killed,” Nationalpost reported.
Trump has long called for an end to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, which began with a U.S. invasion triggered by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that al Qaeda launched from then Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, according to Reuters. The United States currently maintains 12,000-13,000 troops in Afghanistan, largely providing training missions to local forces.
The crash comes as the Taliban and US have been in talks on ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan. Taliban has been waging an armed rebellion since it was toppled from power following the September 2001 attacks in the US.
Negotiations between the two sides began last year in Doha but have been interrupted at least twice after Taliban attacks on US military personnel in September and December, Aljazeera told.
Last week, another round of talks kicked off with US Special Representative on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad meeting repeatedly with the Taliban’s chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.