Friendly Fire Claims More Lives
An American soldier was killed and several others reported
missing after a US F-15 strike aircraft apparently dropped bombs or
missiles on Allied troops, the British military said yesterday.
Getting To The Bottom Of It
Central Command launched an investigation into what it called a
"possible friendly-fire incident involving an F-15E Strike Eagle
and coalition ground forces." It said names of the dead and missing
soldiers were being withheld until next of kin had been
The announcement came after two American aircraft went down
within 24 hours earlier this week, killing up to eight American
servicemen. A Black Hawk HH-60 helicopter crashed near Karbala, 50
miles south-west of Baghdad, a staging post in the Allied advance
on the Iraqi capital, and the scene of fierce engagements with the
Iraqis. In a separate incident, a US F/A-18 Hornet fighter-bomber
also went down.
Another Patriot Miscue?
US Central Command admitted Wednesday night that
the Hornet "may have" been downed by an American Patriot missile.
Two weeks ago an RAF Tornado was shot down by a Patriot missile
battery, killing both its crew.
There has been speculation that the Black Hawk might also have
been brought down in a friendly-fire incident. The Pentagon
initially suggested that the helicopter had been shot down by enemy
fire, reviving memories of the downing of a Black Hawk in Mogadishu
during US operations in Somalia a decade ago. It had also reported
that the Hornet had been shot down. Central Command officials later
said both crashes were under investigation.
What Didn't Happen
Brigadier General Vincent Brooks (USA) told a press conference
in Qatar that "hostile fire" was not suspected in the helicopter
downingand that there were reports the Hornet was hit by missiles,
not elaborating whether they were Iraqi or Allied missiles. Black
Hawks have been protected by Apache attack helicopters in much of
the advance on Baghdad.
General Brooks confirmed there were "some casualties" from the
helicopter crash. The Pentagon said six Americans on board the
helicopter were killed. The Hornet pilot was missing, and search
and rescue operations were under way, officials said.
The total number of US casualties since the war began is now 60
or 61 killed in combat, accidents or friendly-fire incidents.
Twelve are missing and six have been captured.
Five Britons have been killed in combat and 22 have died in
accidents or friendly-fire incidents.
Friendly Fire Incidents Cause Tensions Between US, UK
A British solder with 16 Air Assault Brigade was
killed last Friday when a US A-10 tankbuster aircraft destroyed his
light Scimitar tank in the third fatal friendly-fire attack on
British servicemen since the beginning of the war. Two other
soldiers in the Scimitar were seriously wounded.
The previous Friday, eight British soldiers and four US Marines,
were killed when their Sea Knight helicopter crashed in Kuwait. The
following day six British troops and one US serviceman were killed
when two Sea King helicopters collided close to the HMS Ark
Nine days ago, two members of a Challenger tank crew were killed
when it was fired on by another Challenger. A tank commander and a
Black Watch soldier were killed in combat on Sunday and Monday.
They had originally been listed as missing but their bodies were
shown on television in an Iraqi-made video on Wednesday.