22 US service members injured in Syria helicopter mishap

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Twenty-two US service members were injured in a helicopter “mishap” in northeast Syria on Sunday, the US military said late on Monday, without disclosing the cause of the incident or detailing the severity of the injuries.

The US military’s Central Command said 10 service members were evacuated to higher-level care facilities outside the region.

Central Command, which oversees US troops in the Middle East, said no enemy fire was reported but added that the cause of the incident was under investigation.

Officials at US Central Command did not immediately respond to requests for further information.

There are about 900 US personnel deployed to Syria, most of them in the east, as part of a mission fighting the remnants of the Daesh. American troops there have come under repeated attacks in recent years by Iran-backed militia.

In March, 25 US troops were wounded in strikes and counter-strikes in Syria, which also killed one US contractor and injured another.

US forces first deployed into Syria during the Obama administration’s campaign against Daesh, partnering with a Kurdish-led group called the Syrian Democratic Forces.

While the Daesh is a shadow of the group that ruled over a third of Syria and Iraq in a caliphate declared in 2014, hundreds of fighters are still camped in desolate areas where neither the US-led coalition nor the Syrian army, with support from Russia and Iranian-backed militias, exert full control.

Thousands of other Daesh fighters are in detention facilities guarded by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, America’s key ally in the country.

US officials say that Daesh could still regenerate into a major threat.

The threats from Iran-backed militia to US forces are a reminder of the complex geopolitics of Syria, where Syrian President Bashar Assad counts on support from Iran and Russia and sees American troops as occupiers.

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