Six Americans in peacekeeping force among 8 killed in helicopter crash in Egypt

An international peacekeeping force helicopter crashed Thursday in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing at least eight people, including six Americans.

The helicopter belonged to him Multinational forces and observers, an independent international peacekeeper called MFO that oversees the 40-year-old peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.

“During a routine mission near Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, nine members of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) were involved in a helicopter crash,” the MFO said in a statement.

“We are deeply saddened that eight uniformed MFO members were killed: six US citizens, one French and one Czech.”

The MFO, an internationally recognized observer mission, said a US member survived. The names of the victims are withheld while their families are informed. The US Department of Defense has not yet commented on the matter, but referred NBC News to the MFO statement.

The MFO said, “At this point there is no information to suggest that the crash was anything other than an accident.”

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“I would like to extend my condolences to the families of those killed and wish the wounded a speedy recovery,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in an am Twitter.

“The contribution of the multinational armed forces and monitors to maintaining security and stability in the region is extremely important and I would like to express my gratitude to the countries that contribute to the security and peace between Israel and Egypt.”

An Israel Defense Forces spokesman told NBC News that Israel has offered to help evacuate the wounded and that specialized medical teams could be mobilized if necessary. An injured American was helicoptered to an Israeli hospital for medical treatment.

According to its website, the MFO has 1,154 military personnel from the United States and 12 other countries covering an area of ​​more than 3,860 square miles in the Sinai. Around 452 employees are American.

In recent years, Washington has been examining the extent to which the US should participate in the MFO, especially as military coordination between Israel and Egypt has been tightened to fight back an Islamist-led uprising in Sinai.

The duties of the armed forces include monitoring troop levels along the border and ensuring freedom of navigation through the Strait of Tiran.

The MFO was installed to oversee the demilitarization of Sinai as part of a 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

Charlene Gubash, Mosheh Gains and Courtney Kube contributed.

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