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A police honor guard carries the remains of Petty Officer First Class Michael Strange, a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in the Aug. 6, 2011 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, to a Philadelphia funeral home on Aug. 15, 2011. (AP) A police honor guard carries the remains of Petty Officer First Class Michael Strange, a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in the Aug. 6, 2011 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, to a Philadelphia funeral home on Aug. 15, 2011. (AP)

A police honor guard carries the remains of Petty Officer First Class Michael Strange, a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in the Aug. 6, 2011 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, to a Philadelphia funeral home on Aug. 15, 2011. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher August 23, 2021

Attack of US Army helicopter in Afghanistan occurred in 2011, not ‘yesterday’

If Your Time is short

  • A viral post shared amid the U.S. Afghanistan withdrawal suggests 31 troops were killed there “yesterday.” The attack that killed 30 troops occurred in August 2011.

As the United States sent the military back to Afghanistan to evacuate Americans, a viral Facebook post resurfaced claiming a mass killing of U.S. troops. 

"R.I.P. To the 31 US Troops who were killed in Afghanistan yesterday," text in the image says. "I bet no one cares enough to repost this to show some respect. This is the real reason for flags at half staff! I have only seen this posted one time; if it was a celebrity it would be plastered all over Facebook. What a shame! I reposted out of respect to the fallen heros. God Bless Our Troops."

The attack really happened, but it came a decade earlier in the war.

One version of the post from Aug. 10, 2015, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Other versions that were being re-shared in light of the August 2021 withdrawal were posted to Facebook as early as 2012.

On Aug. 6, 2011, a Taliban fighter shot down a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter, killing all 38 people aboard — 30 U.S. special operation troops, along with eight Afghan nationals. Early reports said the number was 31. The incident is sometimes referred to as Extortion 17, the call sign for the helicopter.

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Of the 30, 17 were Navy SEALs, including some in the unit that carried out the mission to kill Osama bin Laden. (Officials said none involved in the raid died in the helicopter attack.) 

A few days later, the U.S. announced that international forces had killed the Taliban insurgents who were responsible for the attack. A U.S. military investigation later concluded that the Taliban fighters had used a rocket-propelled grenade.

The United States’ recent involvement in Afghanistan started after al-Qaida, a terrorist group based in Afghanistan, attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. 

From October 2001 to April 2021, six civilians and 2,442 soldiers in the U.S. military died as a direct result of the war, as well as nearly 4,000 U.S. contractors, according to the Costs of War project at Brown University. 

Movement toward a withdrawal began in earnest on Feb. 29, 2020, when President Donald Trump signed an agreement with the Taliban that paved the way for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan to conclude by May  2021, if certain conditions were met. President Joe Biden announced in April 2021 that the May 1 deadline would not be met, but that full withdrawal of troops would end before Sept. 11.

Our ruling

A social media post from 2015 about 30 troops killed "yesterday" in Afghanistan is being re-shared without historical context. It happened not in 2021 or 2015, but in 2011.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

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More by Tom Kertscher

Attack of US Army helicopter in Afghanistan occurred in 2011, not ‘yesterday’

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