According to Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, clashes erupted as the government forces, backed by the US military, tried for the second time to reach the wreckage site in the militants’ stronghold.
“Taliban fighters on the ground counted six bodies at the site of the U.S. airplane crash,” he said, adding there was uncertainty regarding the total fatality count because the fire had consumed everything.
The American spy plane, a Bombardier E-11A, came down in the central province early Monday.
Following the incident, the Taliban claimed they had shot down.
However, a US defense official said Tuesday the Taliban’s claim to have brought down the plane was misleading, adding that a preliminary probe showed there was a mechanical error. Neither US officials nor any members of the international force in Afghanistan have visited the site of the crash.
The Taliban said Tuesday they would only allow a rescue team access to recover bodies from the site.
US media broke their partial news blackout on the incident, with some reporting the crash late on Monday.
The aircraft has been identified as Bombardier E-11A belonging to the US Air Force. It is the military variant of the civil Bombardier BD-700 Global Express for use as overhead communications-relay platform in Southwest Asia.
The E-11A is used to link troops in the field to headquarters and has been previously described by Air Force pilots as “WiFi in the sky.”
Meanwhile, Veterans Today website, has quoted Russian intelligence sources as saying that Michael D’ Andrea, head of US intelligence operations against Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, and in charge of the CIA assassination programs in the Middle East, was also on that plane.
D’Andrea is said to have led the US drone operation that assassinated top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.
On January 3, General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps was assassinated in a US drone strike in Baghdad. The attack also claimed the lives of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), and a group of companions. The operation was ordered and authorized by President Donald Trump.
Less than a week later, the IRGC pounded two US military bases in Iraq with ballistic missiles.