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- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Facebook, post, Aug. 10, 2015
Facebook, post, Aug. 17, 2012
Facebook, post, Aug. 9, 2012
PolitiFact, "Ask PolitiFact: What are some basic facts on the U.S. war in Afghanistan?", Aug. 19, 2021
PolitiFact, "No, a helicopter transporting U.S. soldiers was not recently shot down," June 15, 2020
Snopes, "Prayer Request for 30 SEALs Killed in Afghanistan," April 25, 2017
New York Times, "Helicopter Crash Victims Named," Aug. 11, 2011
Stars and Stripes, "DOD identifies service members killed in CH-47 crash," Aug. 11, 2011
Air & Space, "The Final Flight of Extortion 17," March 2015
ABC News, "As US troops prepare to pull out, a look at the war in Afghanistan by the numbers," April 13, 2021
NBC News, "31 US troops, mostly elite Navy SEALs, killed in Afghanistan," Aug. 6, 2011
Cape Cod Times, "US report: RPG downed Chinook in Afghanistan," Oct. 13, 2011
Associated Press, "Afghan insurgents who downed U.S. helicopter killed by international forces," Aug. 10, 2011
U.S. House of Representatives, National Security Subcommittee hearing, Feb. 27, 2014
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