LONDON: A British soldier was critically injured, alongside a US counterpart, during a covert night-time parachute mission against Daesh in Iraq.
The soldiers, from the UK’s Special Air Service (SAS) and US Army Delta Force, were wounded when they collided in mid-air near the city of Baiji.
The pair hit the ground at high speed, sustaining severe injuries. Their canopies are thought to have become entangled and deflated, causing the accident.
“All the parachutists were relying on night vision goggles. The coming-together, which could have killed both guys, happened after they had pulled their chutes,” a source from the SAS told Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper.
“One or perhaps both of the injured jumpers could have become disorientated or may have been studying the navigation board strapped to his chest when the collision occurred,” the source added.
“They made emergency landings at high speed, hitting the ground very hard and suffering severe lower limb and back injuries.”
The soldiers were able to radio for assistance. They were rescued by a team of British and American soldiers, and were flown immediately to a US military hospital in Germany. The crash site, meanwhile, was “cleansed” of all traces of the incident.
It is thought that the intelligence-gathering mission was able to continue despite the accident. Britain’s Royal Air Force later carried out a series of successful raids against suspected Daesh strongholds in the region.
However, a UK Ministry of Defence spokesman told the Mail: “We do not comment on Special Forces (operations).”