Insurgent Group Claims Responsibility
ANN REALTIME UPDATE
02.07.07 1630 EST: US military officials have confirmed
seven crewmembers and passengers were killed when a Marine Corps
CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter went down in Iraq's Anbar province
Army Major Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, Multinational Force Iraq
spokesman, told reporters the helicopter went down about 20 miles
northwest of Baghdad.
Caldwell would not comment on the possible causes of the
incident. "The investigation is going on as we speak," he said,
adding a quick reaction force team had arrived at the crash
The US military has confirmed a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter
(file photo below) went down 20 miles northwest of Baghdad
Wednesday with an unknown number of personnel aboard.
While officials won't say what caused the crash, they did say
they believe there is enemy action in the area.
US military spokesman Major General William Caldwell told
reporters in Baghdad, "A quick reaction force is on site and the
investigation is going on as we speak."
According to a report by the Associated Press, an anonymous
pentagon source said there were fewer than 10 people aboard the
chopper, but the military has not released an official casualty
Caldwell wouldn't comment on the possibility enemy fire might
have brought the aircraft down, but an Iraqi air force officer told
the Associated Press it was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile.
An al-Qaeda-linked Sunni group has already claimed
The downing comes at the start of a long-awaited security
operation set to quell sectarian violence in the country's war-torn
capitol according to Caldwell. The operation is to be led by Iraqi
Lieutenant General Abboud Gambar who assumed responsibility from
the US Army on Monday.
"Portions are already being put in place, and we'll continue to
put more into place as the forces arrive and the assets become
available," Caldwell said.
This is the fifth helicopter -- four military and one civilian
-- to go down around Baghdad in recent weeks. The US military
confirmed earlier this week the previous four crashes were all due
to enemy activity.
Military leaders in Iraq have said they are altering tactics as
regards the use of helicopters for combat operations.