WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) -- An Air Force Special Operations MH-53 helicopter made a hard landing near the Afghan village of Tarin Khowt early Tuesday, injuring at least three aboard and breaking off the tail of the aircraft, according to Pentagon sources.
CNN reports a fourth crew member was hospitalized for his injuries, but initial Pentagon reports did not confirm that.
The crash landing is attributed to "brown out" conditions. As the helicopter came close to landing, its rotors kicked up a tremendous amount of dust and dirt, obliterating the pilot's visibility and obscuring the distance to landing, according to a Pentagon official.
Tarin Khowt, near the birth place of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, was the site a critical battle between a small number of U.S. Special Forces soldiers backed by Hamid Karzai and his troops, and a large force of al Qaida and Taliban fighters from Kandahar.