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Team of U.S. GIs Missing in Afghanistan - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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KABUL, Afghanistan -A small team of U.S. soldiers was still missing Friday in the same mountains in eastern Afghanistan where a special forces helicopter was shot down earlier this week, and U.S. forces are using &#34every available asset&#34 to find them, a U.S. military spokesman said.

The MH-47 Chinook helicopter — with 16 people on board who all died in the crash — had gone into the mountains Tuesday to &#34extract the soldiers.&#34 The team on the ground has been missing since the chopper was downed, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O”Hara said.

A purported Taliban spokesman, Mullah Latif Hakimi, meanwhile, claimed the rebels had captured a U.S. soldier in the area, near the town of Asadabad, close to the Pakistani border.

&#34One high-ranking American has been captured in fighting in the same area as the helicopter went down,&#34 he told The Associated Press. &#34I won”t give you any more details now.&#34

Reacting to the claim, O”Hara said, &#34We have no proof or evidence indicating anything other than the soldiers are missing.&#34

Hakimi, who also claimed that the insurgents shot down the helicopter, often calls news organizations to take responsibility for attacks, often with information that proves exaggerated or untrue. His exact tie to the Taliban leadership is not clear.

O”Hara said U.S. forces were using &#34every available asset&#34 to search for the missing troops.

&#34Until we find our guys, they are still listed as unaccounted for and everything we got in that area is oriented on finding the missing men,&#34 he said.

The loss of the 16 troops on the chopper was the deadliest single blow to American forces who ousted the Taliban in 2001 for harboring al-Qaida and are now fighting an escalating insurgency.

The bodies of the 16 have been recovered and troops Friday were trying to identify the remains, the military said.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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