Details of Chinook Crash That Injured 22 Troops Corrected by Pentagon

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U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook at night.
U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook aircrew fly a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve at an undisclosed location in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, Nov. 12, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Asselta)

The Pentagon has revised its narrative of what happened during a helicopter incident in northeastern Syria that left 22 service members injured over the weekend.

A spokesman for the Pentagon said that "while the issue is still under investigation, the current understanding is the crash occurred while landing at a staging base, not during takeoff."

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

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The updated message also noted that "the number of injured personnel medically evacuated is updated from 10 service members to 15." A total of 22 service members were injured in the incident, according to the initial statement made by U.S. Central Command.

Neither the Pentagon nor Central Command has offered any further information on the nature of the injuries or what branch the injured service members belong to.

    Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany confirmed to Military.com in an email Tuesday that it received injured service members from the incident but did not provide a total number.

    The Pentagon has framed the change in detail and increased casualty figures as a correction.

    Central Command has recently faced scrutiny over the accuracy of its statements about other operations in the region.

    In early May, the command said it carried out a drone strike that it claimed killed a senior al-Qaida leader -- the terrorist group responsible for the September 2001 attacks on the U.S. -- in northwest Syria. Later reporting by The Washington Post, however, forced the command to walk that claim back.

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

    The corrected account of the Chinook incident also comes after the Pentagon and the Biden administration had to do an about-face on Wall Street Journal reporting that came out last week claiming China operated a spy base in Cuba.

    Asked about it last Thursday, the Department of Defense's top spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, told reporters that, "based on the information that we have ... that is not accurate."

    Ryder went on to say that "we are not aware of China and Cuba developing any type of spy stations separately" and that he was unaware of any efforts by China to set up a base anywhere else in the region.

    On Sunday, The Associated Press, citing an unnamed White House official, said The Wall Street Journal report was indeed accurate and that a Chinese base has been on the island since at least 2019.

    On Tuesday, Singh said that Ryder's comments were "not an attempt to mislead reporters by any means."

    Singh went on to say that Ryder's comments were "directly referring to The Wall Street Journal report that had come out earlier that afternoon or morning" and not the idea of a Chinese spy base in Cuba.

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

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