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Pentagon Looks Into Recent Helicopter Crashes in Iraq

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2006 – The Pentagon is seeking answers as to why three U.S. helicopters have crashed in Iraq within the past two weeks, a senior Defense Department official said here today.

"Is there a pattern? Certainly, in recent weeks three helicopters have gone down. Nothing has been ruled in or out in any of those three cases yet," DoD spokesman Lawrence Di Rita told Pentagon reporters.

Twelve U.S. servicemembers and four civilians were killed as the result of three separate helicopter crashes that occurred in Iraq this month:

Two U.S. soldiers died yesterday when their AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed north of Taji;

Two U.S. soldiers were killed Jan. 13 when their OH-58D Kiowa helicopter crashed in Mosul; and

Eight soldiers and four civilians were killed Jan. 7 when their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Tal Afar.

Di Rita also said military aviation experts are examining whether the terrorists are targeting U.S. helicopters by some new means.

"Is there a new threat out there that we need to be more aware of?" Di Rita posited. However, he cautioned reporters not to jump to any conclusions.

"The first reports are very often wrong," Di Rita said.

All three crashes are being investigated, he said.

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