Seven US personnel killed in Iraq helicopter crash

BAGHDAD: All seven service members aboard a US helicopter that crashed in Iraq were killed, the Pentagon said on Friday in a written statement. The aircraft crashed in western Iraq a day earlier, US officials said.

The officials said seven service members were on board.

The crash did not appear to be the result of enemy activity and is under investigation, the Pentagon said.

“This tragedy reminds us of the risks our men and women face every day in service of our nations. We are thinking of the loved ones of these service members today,” said US Army Brig. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga, director of operations in the fight against IS in Iraq and Syria.

The helicopter was used by the Air Force for combat search and rescue, and was in transit from one location to another when it went down on Thursday afternoon near the town of Qaim in Anbar Province.

The Pentagon said an accompanying US helicopter immediately reported the crash and a quick-reaction force comprised of Iraqi security forces and Coali­tion members secured the scene.

The names of those killed will be released after next of kin have been notified, the statement added.

President Donald Trump offered his thoughts and prayers on Twitter on Friday for the families of service members killed, saying he was thinking of the “brave troops,” and adding that “their sacrifice in service to our country will never be forgotten.”

The US-led coalition battling the militant Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria have an outpost in Qaim, which is located near the Syrian border.

The anti-IS campaign accelerated through much of last year, as coalition and Iraqi forces battled to take back a string of cities and towns.

An accompanying US helicopter reported the crash and a quick reaction force comprised of Iraqi Security Forces and US-led coalition members secured the scene.The US has operated both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft in Iraq during the war against the militant Islamic State group, which overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014.

US forces began carrying out air strikes against IS in August 2014, a campaign that was later expanded to Syria, and has provided weapons, training and other support to forces fighting the jihadists in both countries.

Categories: Top story,Warzone

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