Six Americans are killed in helicopter crash in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula while serving with multi-national peacekeeping force
- Six US nationals were among eight killed, alongside French and Czech citizens
- Their helicopter crashed in the Sinai peninsula after an apparent technical fault
- It belonged to the MFO peacekeeping force set up after Israel-Egypt peace deal
Six Americans were killed in a helicopter crash today while serving with a peacekeeping force in Egypt.
The six US nationals were among seven eight of the air disaster in Egypt’s Sinai desert which also killed a French national and a Czech citizen.
A seventh American survived and was being medically evacuated.
The aircraft belonged to the Multinational Force and Observers, a peacekeeping force co-founded by Israel in 1979 when it signed a peace deal with Egypt.
An Egyptian official said the UH-60 Black Hawk crash appeared to be caused by a technical failure.
The passengers killed in a helicopter crash were working for a peacekeeping organisation in the Sinai peninsula between Egypt and Israel
Six Americans were killed in a helicopter crash today in the Egyptian desert (file photo) while serving with a peacekeeping force
The Egyptian official said the aircraft was on a reconnaissance mission and crashed near the island of Tiran. An Israeli official said the country initially dispatched a helicopter but called off the mission after the deaths were confirmed.
MFO confirmed the eight deaths, saying it was ‘deeply saddened to report that eight uniformed MFO members were killed’.
Their names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin, a statement on Thursday said.
Around 450 US troops are deployed in the region under the auspices of the MFO, which was created after the Carter administration helped to broker the peace treaty in 1979.
However, a report in May 2020 said that Donald Trump’s then-defense secretary Mark Esper was looking to withdraw US troops from the peninsula.
The Wall Street Journal report said that officials in the State Department and the Israeli government were opposed to the withdrawal.
The US also pledges to provide one-third of the MFO’s annual operating expenses, the organisation says.
The peacekeeping force was set up after the 1979 peace agreement between Egypt and Israel (pictured, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, US president Jimmy Carter and Israeli PM Menachem Begin at the signing ceremony)
The MFO’s total contingent of around 1,150 military personnel also includes 275 from Colombia, 55 from Canada and dozens from European countries including Italy and the Czech Republic.
In 2015, six of the peacekeepers were wounded by a roadside bomb, and some governments have previously voiced fears about remote and vulnerable outposts.
Small-scale attacks sometimes occur in the north of the peninsula, and Israel has previously warned that removing MFO troops would make insurgents ‘more jihadi’.
The MFO was created to monitor the demilitarisation of Sinai after the historic peace deal was signed at Camp David 41 years ago.
Egypt’s then-president Anwar Sadat, who signed the accords, was assassinated in 1981 by radicals opposed to the deal.