WASHINGTON - U.S. forces working in a mostly Taliban-controlled region of Afghanistan have recovered the remains of two military personnel killed when their plane crashed in the country’s Ghazni province.
Officials said troops also found what they believe to be the plane’s flight data recorder, removing it with the remains before destroying what was left of the aircraft.
“The remains were found near the crash site, treated with dignity and respect by the local Afghan community, in accordance with their culture,” U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement late Tuesday.
“The cause of the crash remains under investigation, however there are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire,” the statement said.
WATCH: US Military Recovers Remains from Afghanistan Plane Crash
Earlier, a U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told VOA the U.S. had recovered the remains of the pilot and co-pilot – the only two people on board when the plane went down Monday.
The official also rejected claims by the Taliban that the plane, an E-11a equipped with a Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) to help U.S. and partner forces collect and share intelligence, was brought down by enemy fire.
Word of Monday’s crash broke first on social media in Afghanistan, with reports from locals in Ghazni province. Hours later, the Taliban said in a statement that the plane went down at noon local time, and there were no survivors.
Taliban officials also posted video of the wreckage on social media.
After some brief, scattered skirmishes with the Taliban, U.S. officials said recovery efforts were hampered mostly by weather conditions in the region as well as the terrain.
Ghazni police chief Khaled Wardek said Tuesday that Afghan security forces reinforced U.S. troops during the recovery process.
Following Monday’s plane crash, some television stations and other news outlets in Iran began reporting that in addition to the pilot and co-pilot, the crash killed a senior CIA officer who played a critical role in the airstrike that killed Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani has also been on board the E11-A.
The U.S. defense official who spoke to VOA on condition of anonymity dismissed the Iranian claims, describing it as recycled Taliban propaganda.