US Helicopter Crashed Shortly After Takeoff in Syria, Injuring 22 Troops

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A Task Force Phoenix CH-47 Chinook helicopter from B Company, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), sits on the landing pad at a forward operating base in Syria. (
A Task Force Phoenix CH-47 Chinook helicopter from B Company, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), sits on the landing pad at a forward operating base in Syria, Aug. 11, 2021. (Maj. Jason Sweeney/40th Combat Aviation Brigade photo)

The Pentagon says that a helicopter accident in northeastern Syria that left 22 service members injured over the weekend happened just after takeoff.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters at a briefing Tuesday that the incident involved an MH-47 Chinook that had a problem with one rotor, causing a hard landing during takeoff.

Singh said that 10 of the 22 injured service members were flown out of the country for medical treatment and that "all of the service members involved in that crash are in stable condition." She did not offer more details on their injuries.

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Military.com reached out to both U.S. Central Command, the unit that first announced the incident, as well as Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the U.S. military hospital in Germany that often serves as the first stop for service members injured overseas, for more detail but did not receive a reply.

The U.S. has maintained a military presence in Syria since 2015 advising and assisting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS. Since the group was driven from cities in Syria and Iraq, the U.S. presence has shrunk but, according to The Associated Press, there are currently at least 900 service members in Syria trying to prevent ISIS' return.

On June 6, Central Command announced that U.S. forces had carried out 17 partnered operations, detained 20 ISIS operatives, and killed two ISIS operatives in May.

In early May, the command also took credit for a drone strike that it said killed a senior al-Qaida leader in northwest Syria. That terrorist group was responsible for the September 2001 attacks on the U.S. However, later reporting by The Washington Post forced the command to walk that claim back.

An investigation is now underway to determine whether the U.S. killed a civilian.

Statements from Central Command have stressed that "no enemy fire was reported" in the helicopter incident over the weekend and that it is investigating the cause.

-- Patricia Kime contributed to this report.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at konstantin.toropin@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

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