Five American service members have lost their lives after a military aircraft crashed over the eastern Mediterranean Sea during a routine training exercise.
The U.S. European Command (EUCOM) confirmed this on Sunday, revealing that the crash occurred on Friday evening while the aircraft was engaged in a routine air refueling mission as part of military training.
The cause of the crash is currently under investigation, though there are no indications of hostile activity playing a role in the incident.
Search and rescue efforts began immediately following the crash, involving nearby U.S. military aircraft and ships.
Out of respect for the families of the fallen service members and in accordance with the U.S. Department of Defense policy, the identities of the crew members will be withheld until 24 hours after next of kin notifications have been completed.
While specific details regarding the type of plane and its point of departure were not disclosed, it is important to note that the U.S. has deployed a carrier strike group to the region as part of its efforts to prevent the Israel-Hamas conflict from escalating into a broader regional crisis.
READ ALSO: Netanyahu Stands Firm: No Cease-Fire Without Hostage Release
In response to a recent cross-border attack by Hamas, the group governing the Gaza Strip, the U.S. rushed military support to Israel and reinforced its presence in the region. This included the deployment of the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier and other warships.
In the midst of these actions, U.S. forces in the region have faced an increased number of attacks related to the ongoing conflict, with more than 40 incidents reported since mid-October. Some American personnel have sustained minor injuries in these attacks. The U.S. government has attributed these attacks to Iran-backed groups and conducted three strikes against Tehran-linked sites in Syria, two in late October and one more recently.
It’s worth noting that this tragic plane crash is not an isolated incident, as there have been several other crashes of U.S. military aircraft in recent years, including a September incident involving an F-35 stealth warplane and a March occurrence in which two U.S. Army helicopters crashed during a nighttime training mission in Kentucky, resulting in the loss of all nine soldiers on board.