Emergency Helicopter Landing Kills 4 U.S. Troops

December 5th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Emergency Helicopter Landing Kills 4 U.S. Troops

Washington Post
December 5, 2006
Pg. 24

By Nancy Trejos, Washington Post Staff Writer
BAGHDAD, Dec. 4 -- Four American troops were killed over the weekend when their helicopter made an emergency landing in a lake in western Anbar province, the U.S. military said on Monday.
Their deaths bring to 14 the number of U.S. troops killed across Iraq so far this month. Over the weekend, eight of those deaths occurred in western Iraq's Anbar province, a base for Sunni Arab insurgent groups and the deadliest area of the country for U.S. troops.
"There's always been a tough fight going on in Anbar province, and it continues to be so," said Lt. Col. Christopher C. Garver, a U.S. military spokesman.
In recent months, U.S. troops have stepped up efforts to quell reprisal killings between Sunnis and Shiites and tamp down insurgent activity. On Monday morning, they killed two suspected insurgents and captured six in a raid in northern Baghdad, according to a military statement. They also destroyed a vehicle packed with explosives in that operation.
The CH-46 helicopter that went down in Lake Qadisiyah on Sunday had 16 troops on board. One Marine was recovered from the water but could not be resuscitated. The bodies of three service members -- one each from the Marines, the Army and the Air Force -- were found in a subsequent search, the military said.
"We have recovered all of our comrades," Marine Lt. Col. Bryan Salas said in an e-mailed statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased."
The mayor of Haditha, Ibraheem al-Bayati, and Iraqi army Lt. Hussein Muslih said the helicopter had been shot down by insurgents with machine guns as it was taking off from the town, located near the Euphrates River.
A group that calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq posted a sign on a nearby mosque in Haditha announcing that the helicopter had 30 passengers on board and had been downed, according to a resident who read the sign.
The U.S. military strongly denied that machine-gun fire brought down the helicopter, saying that the aircraft experienced mechanical difficulties.
"The guys who own the helicopter say it is under investigation and that there is no evidence that it is the result of enemy action," Garver said.
The military is still investigating the crash in Anbar last week of an F-16 fighter jet that killed a U.S. Air Force major. Enemy fire was not suspected.
The first days of December have also been deadly for Iraqi civilians.
On Sunday, a 5-year-old girl was shot during an attack on coalition forces and Iraqi national police in the al-Doura district of Baghdad, according to the U.S. military. The girl was taken to a military hospital in the Green Zone, which houses the Iraqi government and U.S. and British embassies. She later died from her injuries, the military said.
In Baqubah, a group of men opened fire on four employees of Diyala province's agricultural office as they drove to work Monday morning. The driver and three of the employees died, police said. Gunmen also shot and killed a taxi driver in central Baqubah, police said.
In Baghdad, a news editor at an Iraqi radio station was shot and killed on his way to work, the Associated Press reported. Nabil Ibrahim al-Dulaim, a Sunni, was married with two young daughters, the news agency said. His death brings to 93 the number of journalists killed in Iraq since the war began, according to the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. on Monday condemned the recent car bombings and sectarian killings. Their statement was partially a response to a triple car bombing that struck a food market in the majority Shiite neighborhood of Sadriyah on Saturday, killing more than 60 people.
"The true enemies of all Iraqis are the murderers who carry out these senseless and cowardly attacks, regardless of sect, tribe or ethnicity," they said. "They are terrified of progress in this country and are determined to sow sectarian discord for their own selfish agenda."
Other Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.

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