• Taliban claims it shot down crashed US plane

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    JALALABAD, Afghanistan: The Taliban Friday claimed to have shot down a C-130 military transport plane in eastern Afghanistan, with NATO confirming that 11 people including six US soldiers were killed in the crash.

    NATO did not confirm the cause of the crash but it comes as Afghan forces — backed by NATO special forces and US air support — pushed into the center of the northern city of Kunduz, which was captured by the Taliban on Monday.

    “Our mujahideen have shot down a four-engine US aircraft in Jalalabad,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.

    “Based on credible information 15 invading forces and a number of puppet troops were killed.”

    The Taliban are known to make exaggerated battlefield claims, and NATO has so far not given details on the cause of the crash.

    The C-130 crash, which occurred at about midnight local time on Friday (1930 GMT Thursday), left six US soldiers and five civilian contractors dead, US Army Colonel Brian Tribus said.

    The contractors had been working for “Resolute Support”, the NATO-led training mission.
    Jalalabad is situated on a key route from the Pakistani border region — where many militants are based — to Kabul, and it has been the scene of repeated attacks in recent years.

    Its airport is home to a major military base.

    Although NATO gave no immediate indications that the plane crash was due to militant action, Jalalabad airport has come underTurkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu said he felt “serious concern over the information that Russia’s airstrikes targeted opposition positions instead of Daesh.”

    After meeting Sinirlioglu, US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “What is important is Russia has to not be engaged in any activities against anybody but ISIL (IS). That’s clear.”
    The strikes came as Russia presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that would call for consent from Damascus for attacks against IS in Syria.

    Washington had previously blocked a similar resolution, and no date has been set for a vote on the latest one.

    After weeks of Russian military build-up in Syria, Russian senators on Wednesday unanimously approved armed intervention.

    It remains unclear how much of the opposition fighting Assad’s army — including the Western-backed opposition — is considered by Moscow as a potential target.

    A Russian foreign ministry official said Moscow could broaden its campaign to Iraq if Baghdad asks, but Lavrov later told reporters Moscow was “not planning to expand our airstrikes to Iraq.”

    Russia’s defense ministry said Moscow had sent more than 50 military aircraft as well as marines, paratroopers and special forces into Syria.

    Russia and the West are in deep disagreement over Syria, with Western powers blaming Assad for starting a war that has left more than 240,000 people dead and millions displaced.

    |AFP

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