A US Navy helicopter has crashed into the Red Sea, the military said in a statement. It added that the fate of five crew members “is still being determined.
The MH-60S Knighthawk was flying with the guided missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence, part of a carrier group dispatched to the region to threaten Syria.
The statement issued by the US Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, said “The crash was not due to any hostile activity,” adding that “The incident is under investigation.”
The USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is providing aircraft and small boats for search and rescue operations.
The Nimitz and its escorts recently finished a deployment in the Persian Gulf and were diverted to the Red Sea as US vessels deploy off Syria in preparation for a possible intervention in Syria.
The US has blamed Syrian government forces for a chemical attack that took place near the capital Damascus on August 21. The Syrian government rejects the charge.
Washington has beefed up its military presence after it threatened to take a military action over the use of chemical weapons allegation.
The US Navy has five Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers off the coast of Syria. They include: The USS Ramage, USS Mahan, USS Gravely, USS Barry and the USS Stout. Each of these destroyers is armed with dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Other ships that Washington deployed near the Syrian coast are: the cruiser USS Princeton and the destroyers USS William P. Lawrence, USS Stockdale and USS Shoup. It has also deployed the USS San Antonio, an amphibious transport ship, to the Eastern Mediterranean. The USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier and strike group is also in the regional waters.
Despite Syria’s endorsement of a US-Russia deal to destroy its chemical weapons, which has temporarily eased the possibility of a US military intervention against the Arab country, Washington has been saying that threat of force is still real against Syria.