Thirty-one US special operation troops and seven Afghan soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in the eastern Afghani province of Wardak after a Taliban attack.
The incident marked the biggest single loss of life for American forces in the country since the start of the campaign back in 2001.
The Taliban claimed it was responsible for downing the aircraft with rocket fire, and an unnamed senior US administration official in Washington told the Associate Press news agency that it was likely the case.
An official investigation is still underway, but it is already clear that most of the personnel killed in the crash belonged to the elite Navy SEALs unit, which killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden this past May.
President Barack Obama mourned the deaths of the US troops, saying in a statement that the crash serves as a reminder of the “extraordinary sacrifices” being made by US military personnel and their families.
The US president added that he also mourned “the Afghans who died alongside our troops.”
Political analyst Habib Hakim believes that despite the high number of casualties, the US will not hasten the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, as the US leadership is well aware that “they are going to pay more in the war against Al Qaeda and Taliban, who are gaining ground in Afghanistan and becoming stronger and stronger day by day.”
“Of course, the US wants to reduce the number of its troops in Afghanistan, but I don’t think they will withdraw all of their forces from the country by 2014 because it’ll be costly for the US and for the international community, as well as for the people and the government of Afghanistan,” he said.
According to Habib, the future of the US military in Afghanistan will depend on the reality on the ground in the country.