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The New Arab

Taliban claims American plane 'crashed' in eastern Afghanistan

Videos shared online showed the alleged wreckage [Twitter]

Date of publication: 27 January, 2020

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A US forces aircraft crashed in eastern Afghanistan, the Taliban claimed on Monday.
The Taliban claimed a US forces aircraft crashed in eastern Afghanistan Monday, hours after the plane went down into an area controlled largely by the insurgents. 

"An aircraft of American occupiers has crashed in Ghazni province," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a Pashto-language statement, adding that all the crew members onboard had been killed.

NATO have yet to officially comment on the incident.

Large swathes of rural areas in Ghazni province are controlled or under the influence of Taliban militants, making access difficult for officials.

The Taliban statement comes hours after social media was rife with suggestions that the plane was from state-owned Ariana Afghan Airlines - however the company said the rumours were "not true".

Read more: 'Optimistic' Taliban aim to sign deal with US by end of month: report

"All the flights of Ariana Afghan Airlines have been completed normally," a statement on the carrier's verified Facebook page read. 

The Civil Aviation Authority of Afghanistan also denied reports that the plane was a commercial flight. 

"According to our information from the Control Tower and Traffic Regulatory Authority, no commercial airline crash has been recorded. And Ariana Afghan Airlines have reassured us that all their planes are accounted for," said the organisation.

Earlier, Aref Noori, Ghazni's governor's spokesman told AFP.

"At around 1:10pm (8:40am GMT) a plane crashed in Deh Yak district of Ghazni province. The plane is on fire and the villagers are trying to put it out. We still don't know if it is a military or commercial plane," he said. 

Crashes involving military flights, particularly helicopters, are common in Afghanistan where inclement weather and creaky aircraft are often pressed to their limits in the war-torn country - and where insurgents have been known to target helicopters.
 
The last civilian flight to crash was in May 2010, when an ageing Pamir Airways plane went down in bad weather during a scheduled flight to Kabul from the northern province of Kunduz.

It was carrying six crew and 38 passengers when it crashed into a mountainside 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Kabul.

Monday's crash came just weeks after a Iran admitted it shot down a passenger plane "unintentionally" while on high alert after firing missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.

All 176 passengers and crew members onboard were killed in the devastating incident that triggered protests in Iran.

The Taliban and the US are currently holding peace talks in the Gulf state of Qatar, which hosts the Taliban's political office.

Negotiations are hindered over a mechanism that could either end or give rise to a significant de-escalation of hostillities.

US troops could be brought home after 18 years of war, if a reduction in violence is followed by a joint US-Taliban peace agreement.

The deal could also mark the begining of negotiations between Afghanistan's warring factions, to try to map out the future of Afghanistan's political landscape. 

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