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7 U.S. service members killed in helicopter crash in western Iraq

Seven U.S. service members were killed Thursday when their helicopter crashed in western Iraq, the military said.

“All personnel aboard were killed in the crash,” Brig. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga, director of operations in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said in a statement released Friday. “This tragedy reminds us of the risks our men and women face every day in service of our nations.”

The incident is under investigation but does not appear to be the result of enemy fire, the statement said.

The HH-60 Pave Hawk was ferrying troops from Iraq to Syria on a routine mission and went down around the town of Qaim along the Iraq-Syria border, according to a defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an incident whose details are still emerging.

The military said the scene had been secured. The names of those aboard were being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

There are about 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria and about 5,000 in Iraq, according to statements from the Pentagon.

The United States is winding down its long campaign against the Islamic State in both countries, but the militants retain pockets of influence in some parts of Syria, including along the Euphrates River.

U.S. troops have been advising Syrian fighters who have been battling extremists in those areas. But the Pentagon has sought to keep American forces out of combat there.

Source: Washington Post

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