U.S. officials have confirmed that a U.S. military helicopter with seven troops on board has crashed in western Iraq. Reports state that there is no indication currently that the aircraft was shot down.
The HH-60 Pave Hawk is an aircraft that the U.S. Air Force uses for combat search and rescue and was in transit from one location to another when it went down Thursday afternoon near the U.S. base in al-Qaim in Anbar Province.
The U.S. officials said rescuers were responding to the location, but other details were not yet available.
Government officials in Baghdad told CBS News the Iraqi Army 8th division was assisting U.S. forces to secure the crash site.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, who was traveling back to the U.S. from Bahrain, was briefed on the crash.
The U.S.-led coalition battling insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has an outpost in al-Qaim, which is located near the Syrian border. The anti-ISIS campaign accelerated through much of last year, as coalition and Iraqi forces battled to take back a string of cities and towns.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over IS in Mosul in July. In the following months Iraqi forces retook a handful of other IS-held towns including Tal Afar in August, Hawija in September and Qaim in October.
The U.S.-led coalition has continued to work with Iraq and Syrian Democratic Forces to shore up the border region to make sure that foreign fighters and insurgents can’t move freely across the region.
“Rescue teams are responding to the scene of the downed aircraft at this time,” a statement from Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, part of the U.S. Central Command said.
There are no reports available for casualties at the present time.
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Photo courtesy Wikipedia
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