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Sat, Feb 03, 2007

Two Soldiers Killed As Another Helo Goes Down In Iraq

Hostile Fire Suspected; Fourth Downing In Two Weeks

Officials with the US military tell ANN two US soldiers were killed Friday morning when their Multinational Division Baghdad helicopter crashed while conducting operations approximately 12 miles northwest of the Iraqi capital, near Taji.

The military did not specify the type of helicopter, or what caused the aircraft to go down. An investigation is under way to determine the cause of the crash, and operations continue in the area, officials said.

Iraqi witnesses state two helicopters were flying in formation when gunmen opened fire. Taji is home to a coalition air base.

Officials said the soldiers' bodies have been recovered and the site has been secured.

Friday's crash was the fourth helicopter to be lost in Iraq since January 20. The three previous crashes -- two military helicopters, and one civilian aircraft -- are believed to also have been caused by enemy fire.

The Associated Press reports comments made Friday by General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, support those assertions. In his comments, General Pace notes that "ground fire ... has been more effective against our helicopters in the last couple weeks."

"I've taken a hard look at that, don't know whether or not this is statistically what's going to happen over time, when you're flying at that level and people are shooting at you, or if this is some kind of new tactics or techniques that we need to adjust to," Pace added.

FMI: www.centcom.mil

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