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9 Dead in Black Hawk Crash Near Fallujah

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2004 – An Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed southeast of Fallujah, Iraq, today, killing all nine aboard, coalition officials said during a press conference in Baghdad.

Officials do not know what caused the crash. A quick-reaction team secured the area, and investigators are on the scene. Early reports that the chopper was from the 82nd Airborne Division are not true, said Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Combined Joint Task Force 7.

In other news from Iraq, an Air Force C-5 Galaxy transport departing from Baghdad International Airport declared an in-flight emergency shortly after taking off. The crew said there was "excessive vibration" in their No. 4 engine, combined press information center officials said. The craft returned safely to the airport, with no injuries among the 63 passengers and crew aboard. Air operations at the facility continue, said officials.

A coalition news release today said a soldier died and 30 American personnel were wounded in a Jan. 7 mortar attack on the 3rd Corps Support Command's Logistical Base Seitz in Balad, north of Baghdad. In the release, CJTF 7 officials said 20 of those wounded have returned to duty. Initial reports of 34 service members being wounded were incorrect, the news release reported. Two soldiers were slightly wounded after the attack, but not as a result of the blast, and two others originally listed as wounded were not, thus accounting for the difference, officials explained. The area is the primary supply point for U.S. forces in the country.

Kimmitt said the past week has seen an average of 18 engagements launched against coalition military targets daily. Attacks against Iraqi security forces averaged slightly more than two per day, with an average of and one attack daily against Iraqi civilians.

Overall, coalition forces conducted 1,601 patrols, 28 offensive operations and 19 raids in the past 24 hours, capturing 47 anti-coalition suspects.

In the north, troopers from the 101st Airborne Division conducted a neighborhood engagement in west Mosul. They searched 223 houses, detained suspects and seized weapons, ammunition and explosives. Kimmitt said a program to get Baath Party loyalists to turn in weapons and ammunition is having some success in the region. In one instance, a former regime loyalist turned in 98 82 mm mortar rounds, fuses and a complete mortar system. Kimmitt said this indicates former Baath Party members are willing to work to establish a free, democratic Iraq.

In the north-central zone the area covered by the 4th Infantry Division there were 157 patrols and one raid, and soldiers captured 10 individuals. Coalition forces captured a Baath party leader near Tikrit, and also captured Salah Shahab, who was wanted for murdering eight Iraqi soldiers who attempted to desert during ground combat operations. Shahab also is believed to be involved in terrorist acts, Kimmitt said.

Members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps conducted a raid in the area. "The intended target was a suspected weapons dealer," Kimmitt said. "ICDC forces captured two individuals and confiscated extensive small arms and ammunition."

In Baghdad, 1st Armored Division soldiers conducted six offensive operations and 569 patrols, 77 of them with Iraqi police and soldiers of the ICDC. Coalition forces captured 11 personnel.

Kimmitt announced that 508 soldiers graduated from the two ICDC academies in Baghdad today. This brings total of defense corps personnel in Baghdad to 3,145.

In the western part of the country, coalition forces conducted 187 patrols, nine joint patrols and four offensive operations. The forces captured 20 individuals. In a cordon-and-search operation designed to kill or capture elements of former regime cells operating in the area, Kimmitt said, forces captured six of the eight primary targets.

In Ramadi, Kimmitt said, ICDC personnel conducted independent combat operations "to disrupt enemy activity and prevent enemy forces from emplacing bombs or to sell black-market fuel along Highway 10." He said the operation will continue for several more days.

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