June 27, 2005

U.S. Apache helicopter down in Iraq -military

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A U.S. Apache attack helicopter crashedin Iraq on Monday and recovery teams were sent to find out thefate of its two-man crew, the U.S. military said.

"We had a helicopter crash northwest of Taji," LieutenantColonel Cliff Kent, spokesman for the 3rd Infantry Divisionsaid, referring to a major airbase north of Baghdad.

Local people said they saw two helicopters circling beforeone crashed out of the sky just north of Baghdad.

"I saw a missile hit one of the helicopters and black smokecome from it before it went down," said one man, who gave hisname as Abu Mustafa.

The U.S. statement did not say what had caused the crash.

Insurgents have shot down U.S. and other aircraft in thepast with shoulder-fired missiles or small arms.

In some of the worst incidents, two U.S. Black Hawkhelicopters collided under fire in Mosul in November 2003,killing 17 soldiers a week after another Black Hawk was shotdown killing six. A Black Hawk was shot down near Falluja inJanuary 2003, killing all nine on board.