Five US service members killed in aircraft crash in Mediterranean

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Five U.S. special operations troops were killed on Friday when their helicopter crashed into the Mediterranean Sea during a training mission, U.S. officials said on Sunday.

U.S. European Command said search and rescue operations were launched immediately following the crash, and an investigation into its cause is underway. The troops aboard the helicopter were U.S. Army special operations personnel, according to two U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In a statement, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin described the crash as a “training accident.”

The United States has deployed two aircraft carriers – the Ford and the Eisenhower – along with supporting ships and dozens of aircraft to the eastern Mediterranean since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel to act as a deterrent to ensure the conflict does not expand.

U.S. European Command, which oversees American military operations in Europe and parts of the Middle East, confirmed the crash on Saturday.

“We can definitively say that the aircraft sortie was purely related to training and there are no indications of hostile activity,” the European Command said on Saturday. It did not identify the helicopter involved.

Identities of the victims will not be released until next of kin notifications are completed, the command said.

President Joe Biden expressed condolences in a statement on Sunday.

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