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Helicopter Crash Kills Two Marines; Two Other Troops Die in Attack

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2005 – Three U.S. Marines and a sailor died in two incidents in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi today.

Two Marines died when their AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter crashed outside the city. A U.S. Marine and a sailor were also killed when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb.

The two Marines in the helicopter were assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). Officials released no further details of the crash. The other two servicemembers were assigned to the 2nd Force Service Support Group (Forward), 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

The deceased servicemembers' names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

In other news from Iraq, five civilians were killed and two others were wounded when their van struck a roadside bomb east of Baghdad today, officials said.

Iraqi security forces and Task Force Baghdad soldiers rushed to the scene and, as Iraqi police cordoned off the area, U.S. soldiers from the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry provided first aid to the wounded. Afterwards, the wounded were taken to a local hospital, officials said.

Based on multiple intelligence sources and tips from local citizens, coalition air forces conducted air strikes against three al Qaeda terrorist safe houses in Husaybah today, killing at least one terror leader, military officials said.

The strikes targeted a senior al Qaeda in Iraq foreign-fighter facilitator, a terror-cell leader, and a terrorist cell that made improvised explosive devices. The individuals targeted were linked to al Qaeda and foreign fighters in Husaybah, Karabilah and Qaim, officials said.

Abu Asim, a senior al Qaeda in Iraq foreign-fighter facilitator, was killed in one of the safe houses during the air strikes. Asim was reportedly brought in to replace another facilitator thought to have been killed by coalition forces. Officials believe Asim had contacts in Syria who would arrange the smuggling of foreign fighters and suicide bombers into the Husaybah and Qaim areas.

Another senior al Qaeda member in Husaybah and several other terrorists were reportedly killed in another safe house during the air attack. Officials didn't name the senior terrorist, but said he was an assistant and close associate of the current al Qaeda in Iraq "emir of Husaybah" and helped that leader in running daily activities and communicating with terrorist cells.

Elsewhere, an unknown number of terrorists were killed when pilots attacked an improvised-explosive-device cell while it was finalizing the emplacement of roadside bombs along a main route, officials said. They then attacked and destroyed a nearby safe house that the terrorists were using to support IED operations.

Following the air strikes, surviving terrorists from neighboring houses retrieved the bodies of six terrorists killed during the attack, sources told U.S. officials. They moved the bodies into a nearby school in an apparent attempt to hide their losses.

In combat action south of Baghdad, Task Force Baghdad soldiers raided the homes of two suspected al Qaeda conspirators and took the men into custody Nov. 1, officials reported. Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, captured two suspected members of a Yemeni branch of al Qaeda who were on a reconnaissance assignment in Baghdad.

"They admitted to being from Yemen," said Army Capt. Matthew Wheeler, an intelligence officer with the unit. "There's a lot of circumstantial evidence against the detainees, and that will solidify as we examine the evidence more closely."

Elsewhere, a dragnet operated by Iraqi and U.S. soldiers netted a dozen terror suspects and numerous small arms after a roadside bomb and small-arms attack against coalition forces Nov. 1 in the Rusafa district in eastern Baghdad, officials said.

Members of Task Force Baghdad's 720th Military Police Battalion and the 2nd Iraqi Army Battalion conducted the early-morning raid. The U.S. and Iraqi soldiers didn't suffer any casualties or damage to equipment, officials noted.

The U.S. and Iraqi units then conducted a three-hour cordon-and-search operation of a nearby cement factory during which they found more than 65 AK-47 assault rifles, 120 AK-47 magazines, three Russian-made PKC machine guns, and three PKC ammunition drums.

(Compiled from Task Force Baghdad and Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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