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Obama: US to 'press on' despite fatal Afghan chopper crash

Obama said the unprecedented loss of U.S. soldiers in a chopper crash would not alter the nation's strategy in Afghanistan.
August 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
President Barack Obama said on Monday that the unprecedented loss of U.S. soldiers this past weekend would not alter the nation's strategy in Afghanistan.

"We will press on and we will succeed," said Obama, adding that he knows the troops in Afghanistan will continue the "hard work" of preventing the country from becoming a terrorist haven and preparing Afghans to take over their own security.

The Pentagon is preparing to receive the remains of the 30 U.S. soldiers that were killed in the helicopter crash on Saturday. The private ceremony will take place at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Tuesday.

Among the 30 U.S. troops killed in the deadly shoot down in eastern Afghanistan were 22 Navy SEALs, along with eight Afghan soldiers. It is the deadliest incident for U.S. forces in the 10-year-old war, as well as the deadliest single loss of an elite force.

However U.S. officials say that the attack does not suggest that the Taliban has increased in force, and that their efforts will continue to destabilize al Qaeda.

"As heavy a loss as this was, it would even be more tragic if we allowed it to derail this country from our efforts to defeat al Qaeda and deny them a safe haven in Afghanistan," said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

International military forces worked on Monday to recover every last piece of a Chinook helicopter from the rugged area of eastern Wardak province.

Military officials said the troops in the crash were on a mission to assist forces pursuing a Taliban leader. NATO says the helicopter was shot down by an insurgent armed with a rocket-propelled grenade.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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