The Taliban is currently claiming that militants have shot down a US B-52 Stratofortress heavy bomber over Afghanistan, Middle East based news site Muraselon reports, citing official Taliban statements.
Taliban spokesman Qarri Muhammad Yousef Ahmad was cited by the Mideast news source as saying, “Mujaheddin of the Islamic Emirate targeted US B-52 bomber with heavy weapons today early morning in Lar area in Washir district of Helmand province, the bomber went down and all its crew were killed while smoke still rising from the crash site.”
Russian and Iranian state media were quick to circulate the claim, though it's as yet to be confirmed by other sources. Neither US nor Afghan national sources have acknowledged a B-52 crash, which the Taliban further said killed all crew members on board.
The alleged incident occurred as the aircraft was departing Shawrab Airbase in southern Afghanistan during the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Well-known Taliban sources online also cited the alleged shoot down, such as Alemara Arabic, which brands itself the Arabic language version of the "Official account of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan":
#عاجل— الإمارة الإسلامية (@alemara_ar) April 10, 2019
استهدف مجاهدو الإمارة الإسلامية قاذفة أمريكية من نوع B52 بنيران الأسلحة الثقيلة صباح اليوم في منطقة "لر" بمديرية واشير في ولاية #هلمند جنوب #أفغانستان.
سقطت القاذفة واحترقت وقتل كامل طاقمها ولا زال الدخان يتصاعد منها.
قاري محمد يوسف أحمدي#طالبان pic.twitter.com/2FdY46K17V
The claim of a Taliban-downed US aircraft — which if true would constitute a rare and disastrous event for coalition forces — comes on the heels of a Taliban attack on a US convoy in north-eastern Afghanistan on Monday, which killed three US Marines and wounded an Afghan contractor.
Early reports out of neighboring Iran which highlighted the claimed incident featured publication of misleading photos of a downed B-52 bomber, given that the main image was of a prior B-52 accidental crash in Guam in 2016.
وكالة فارس الايرانية في محاولة لتأكيد الخبر تنشر صورة من عام ٢٠١٦ وتقول أنها اليوم.— Fadi Hussein | فادي (@fadihussein8) April 10, 2019
The Taliban claimed it shot down a US B52. To confirm their words the Iran Based Fars News Agency released the image of a B52 that crashed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam (May 19, 2016) pic.twitter.com/bVHdUO72dt
The photograph circulated separately from Taliban media accounts after it was promoted by Iran's Fars News Agency.
The B-52 was originally developed to carry nuclear weapons but has been adapted over the years for long-range strategic bombing raids, the first and longest lasting of its kind for the US military. It frequently operates over Afghanistan and in Middle East theaters.