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Officials Confirm Marine Helicopter Shot Down

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2007 – U.S. officials in Iraq today confirmed that a Marine CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter that crashed killing seven servicemembers Feb. 7 was shot down with anti-aircraft munitions.

Officials from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) made the determination, according to a news release from Multinational Corps Iraq.

"Initial evidence indicated that the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter went down as a result of mechanical failure. After further investigation using all available means, the cause of the incident has been confirmed to be hostile fire," said Marine Maj. Jeff Pool, a Multinational Force West spokesman.

The actual attack was not witnessed by the pilots of the AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter providing escort for the CH-46 troop-transport helicopter. The pilots did observe the fire, descent and subsequent crash. The initial signs resembled fires that have occurred aboard CH-46s experiencing mechanical difficulties in the past, officials said.

“Because of the sensitive operational nature of the recent events, speculation as to capabilities of the enemy's weapons, or our tactics to counter them, will not be discussed to guard the safety of our servicemembers,” the news release stated.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these fallen servicemembers," Pool said. "All available resources are dedicated to eliminating the threat to our aircraft so that we can continue to … support our ground forces."

After the remains of the deceased were removed and the appropriate equipment salvaged, the crash site was “sterilized” with explosives to ensure the enemy could gain nothing from the debris, officials said.

(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)

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