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6 Marines killed in Afghan chopper crash

French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris Dec. 5, 2011. UPI/David Silpa
French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris Dec. 5, 2011. UPI/David Silpa | License Photo

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. military authorities said Friday six NATO troops killed when their CH-53 helicopter crashed in Afghanistan were U.S. Marines.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for Thursday's crash, although American-led forces reported there was no enemy fire in the vicinity, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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French President Nicholas Sarkozy announced Friday he will shut down combat participation while he ponders pulling French troops out of Afghanistan, after a breakaway Afghan soldier opened fire on French troops, killing four soldiers and wounding 16 others.

Coalition forces say the alleged killer was arrested, the Times said.

Sarkozy called for a security review, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"The French army isn't in Afghanistan to be shot at by Afghan soldiers," Sarkozy told diplomats in Paris.

Sarkozy said Defense Minister Gerard Longuet and the head of the French army will go to Afghanistan to review security conditions.

"Between now and then, all the operations, of training and combat support, are suspended. If the security conditions and the recruitment conditions of Afghan soldiers are not clearly defined and secure, France will draw immediate conclusions," Sarkozy was quoted as saying.

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When asked what impact France's withdrawal might have on President Barack Obama's strategy in Afghanistan, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said he was reluctant to get into the subject.

"I don't want to get ahead of any discussions or decision that France might make with regard to its presence as part of that coalition," Carney said. "But it includes all of our ISAF partners."

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen offered condolences for the soldiers who were killed and sympathy for those who were wounded but called the attack an isolated incident.

"Such tragic incidents are terrible and grab headlines, but they are isolated. The reality is that every day, 130,000 ISAF troops from 50 nations fight and train with over 300,000 Afghan soldiers. That takes a lot of trust among a lot of soldiers," Rasmussen said in a statement. "We have the same goal. An Afghanistan that is responsible for its own security. That is what Afghans want. And we remain committed to helping Afghans achieve that goal."

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