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- Taliban claimed it shot down a US jet over Dih Yak, Afghanistan on Monday
- US confirmed an E-11A aircraft crashed but denied it was shot down by Taliban
- Pro-Kremlin and Iranian media reported CIA chief Michael D’Andrea was killed
- Pentagon confirmed today two bodies were recovered from the crash site
An Iranian news agency has claimed a CIA chief who helped plan the assassination of general Qassem Soleimani was killed in a plane crash yesterday in Afghanistan.
The highly dubious report comes after a US official confirmed today that the remains of two American personnel had been recovered from the wreckage of the E-11A communications jet which crashed in the Dih Yak district.
The official added that there was no evidence it had been downed by enemy fire despite claims by the Taliban – amplified by Iranian media – that the jet had been shot down.
Reports by an Iranian news agency and Kremlin-linked news sites have claimed that among the dead was Michael D’Andrea, a CIA boss credited with hunting down Osama bin Laden, known as the ‘Dark Prince’ and ‘Ayatollah Mike.’
The Pentagon yesterday denied that a Taliban shot down the E-11A aircraft in the Dih Yak district, saying the communications jet had crashed. A US official confirmed today that the remains of two American personnel had been recovered from the site
The Taliban said it was responsible for shooting down the aircraft, a Bombardier E-11A which is used by the US Air Force to carry out surveillance missions. The terror group further claimed they ambushed the US and Afghan personnel arriving on the scene, however, the US official today said the military was not met with resistance
Iranian media and Kremlin-linked news sites have claimed that among the dead was Michael D’Andrea, a CIA chief credited with hunting down Osama bin Laden known as the ‘Dark Prince’
Iranian propaganda agency, Mehr News, reported today that D’Andrea, who played ‘a pivotal role in many acts of terror, including the assassination of IRGC Quds Force commander Lieutenant General Qasem Soleimani,’ was killed.
It cited the pro-Kremlin website VT, which quoted Russian intelligence sources claiming D’Andrea had been killed and vital intelligence aboard the jet seized.
It claimed that the jet was not a standard US communications plane, but D’Andrea’s mobile command center and was also carrying other high-ranking operatives.
D’Andrea’s name began to crop up frequently across Farsi channels in the wake of the US drone strike which killed Soleimani in Baghdad earlier this month.
According to Iran’s Tasnim agency – which has strong links to the IRGC – ‘D’Andrea is the most prominent figure in the US CIA in the Middle East.’
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, claimed yesterday that several high-ranking American officers were among the dead after the plane came down at 1.10pm local time.
He also claimed that Taliban forces had ambushed Afghan forces backed by U.S. military support sent to secure the crash site.
However, the US official speaking today said the American recovery teams met no Taliban resistance in reaching the crash site.
The official was speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of an official announcement on the crash.
Monday’s plane crash is not expected to derail U.S.-Taliban peace talks if the crash investigation determines, as expected, that it was not the result of hostile action.