WASHINGTON/KABUL - President Hamid Karzai on Monday offered condolences to his US counterpart Barack Obama over the death of US Special Force members in a helicopter crash in central Maidan Wardak province. Speaking over the telephone, the Presidential Palace in Kabul said, the two leaders conferred on the war against terrorism and termed the scourge a huge threat to regional and global security.
Thirty-one International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service members, an interpreter and seven Afghan commandos were killed when a coalition CH-47 Chinook crashed in the Syedabad district early Saturday.
All of the soldiers on board were from the US, most belonging to the elite Navy SEAL unit that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. None of those killed in the crash were personally involved in the operation against bin Laden.
The Taliban claimed downing the helicopter, killing all those on board, but ISAF confirmed only that the helicopter had crashed and said investigations were underway to determine the cause.
Obama and Karzai reaffirmed their commitment to the Afghan mission, the White House said. "President Obama received a call from President Karzai, who reiterated his condolences for the tragic loss of 30 American service-members," the White House said in a statement.
Obama noted the extraordinary services of the Americans who gave their lives and expressed his condolences for the Afghans who died serving by their side. "The presidents reaffirmed their commitment to the mission in Afghanistan, which is critical to the security of both our countries, and agreed to stay in close contact."
Earlier in the day, Obama called top military leaders in Afghanistan to express his condolences for those who were lost, and to express Americans' support for the armed forces.
According to an Afghan diplomat, during their telephone conversation, Karzai expressed his deepest sympathy and condolences to Barack Obama and the families and relatives of those killed in the helicopter crash.
"Obama thanked Karzai for sympathizing, stressed the fight against the terrorists who are a threat to the security of the region and the world and said that the people of Afghanistan and America stand against terrorists and their sacrifice in this way will never be forgotten," the diplomat said.