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Marine aircraft crashes at base in Syria, injuring 2 U.S. troops

An MV-22 Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 165 takes off during an exercise in April. (U.S. Air Force)

A Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey crashed on a coalition base in Syria early Friday morning, injuring two American troops in a combat zone where the United States maintains Special Operations forces and artillery support.

The aircraft is a “total loss,” having experienced what the military describes as a hard landing before catching fire on the ground, a U.S. defense official told The Washington Post. Officials have not said what caused the crash, only that it’s possible the fire was somehow related.

Army Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition there, said Friday it was not clear if the Osprey was arriving or leaving the modestly sized base when the incident occurred.

The two injured service members were transported for medical treatment and released, and the cause of the incident is being investigated, according to U.S. Central Command. A Marine Corps official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the aircraft belonged to that service.

Other passengers and crew were uninjured, though it’s unclear how many personnel were on board. The Pentagon will not disclose either the names or service affiliation of those involved in the mishap.

The official number of U.S. military personnel in Syria is capped at 503, but the Pentagon makes liberal use of temporary deployments to augment the forces who are there. Reports have indicated that well over 1,000 troops are there.

Earlier this year, Marines established an outpost in Syria to pound Islamic State forces in the operation to retake their stronghold in the northern city of Raqqa. U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces secured Raqqa’s Old City on Sept. 4, with intense fighting still expected to topple the Islamic State’s de facto capital.

U.S. troops have been on the ground in Syria since October 2015 to support Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition effort to roll back militant control of territory linking Syria and Iraq.

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