Five US troops killed in helicopter crash in Mediterranean

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Five U.S. Army special operations troops were killed on Friday when their helicopter crashed into the Mediterranean Sea during a training mission, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The troops were participating in “routine flight training” when the MH-60 Blackhawk “experienced an in-flight emergency, resulting in the crash,” the U.S. Defense Department said in a statement on Monday.

The United States has deployed two aircraft carriers – the Ford and the Eisenhower – along with supporting ships and dozens of aircraft to the eastern Mediterranean since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel to act as a deterrent to ensure the conflict does not expand.

U.S. European Command, which oversees American military operations in Europe and parts of the Middle East, initially confirmed the crash on Saturday.

“We can definitively say that the aircraft sortie was purely related to training and there are no indications of hostile activity,” it said.

President Joe Biden on Sunday expressed condolences for the victims, who the Pentagon said were part of the 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

The Pentagon on Monday identified them as Stephen Dwyer of Tennessee, Shane Barnes of California, Tanner Grone of New Hampshire, Andrew Southard of Arizona and Cade Wolfe of Minnesota.

(Reporting by Katharine Jackson; Andrea Shalal and Susan Heavey; Editing by Grant McCool, Lisa Shumaker, Sandra Maler and Chizu Nomiyama)