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Old 03-17-2018, 02:19 PM
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Arrow All 7 U.S. troops on copter died in crash

All 7 U.S. troops on copter died in crash
By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA The Associated Press - Posted: March 17, 2018 at 3:40 a.m.

BAGHDAD -- All seven service members aboard a U.S. helicopter that crashed in Iraq were killed, the Pentagon said Friday in a statement.

The aircraft crashed in western Iraq a day earlier, U.S. officials said.

The officials said seven service members were on board. They spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss details of the crash before they were made public.

The crash did not appear to be the result of enemy activity and is under investigation, the Pentagon said.

"This tragedy reminds us of the risks our men and women face every day in service of our nations. We are thinking of the loved ones of these service members today," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jonathan Braga, director of operations in the fight against the Islamic State extremist group in Iraq and Syria.

The helicopter was used by the Air Force for combat search-and-rescue and was in transit from one location to another when it went down Thursday afternoon near the town of Qaim in Anbar province.

The Pentagon said an accompanying U.S. helicopter immediately reported the crash, and a quick-reaction force made up of of Iraqi security forces and coalition members secured the scene.

The names of those killed will be released after next of kin have been notified, the statement added.

New York City officials announced Friday that two of those killed were longtime members of the city's Fire Department -- Lt. Christopher Raguso and fire marshal Christopher "Tripp" Zanetis. They were "truly two of New York City's bravest," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

President Donald Trump offered his thoughts and prayers on Twitter on Friday for the families of service members killed, saying he was thinking of the "brave troops."

The U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have an outpost in Qaim, which is near the Syrian border. The anti-Islamic State 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 the Islamic State in Mosul in July. In the following months, Iraqi forces retook a handful of other Islamic State-held towns.

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.

Information for this article was contributed by Susannah George and Lolita C. Baldor of The Associated Press.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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