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U.S. Helo Crash Claims Two Lives; Marine Killed in Operation

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2005 – Two soldiers died May 26 after a U.S. helicopter crashed near Baqubah, Iraq, officials reported today, and a U.S. Marine was killed May 25 by enemy small-arms fire in Haditha during Operation New Market.

One helicopter crashed, and the second landed safely at a coalition forces base after sustaining damage from small-arms fire. According to news reports, the helicopters were OH-58 Kiowa reconnaissance models supporting combat operations.

Coalition forces responded to the scene and secured the crash site.

The Marine who was killed was assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). The names of the deceased soldiers and Marine are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

U.S. Marines and sailors from Regimental Combat Team 2 and members of the Iraqi security forces conducted anti-insurgent operations in and around the city of Haditha May 25-26.

Marines from 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, and Iraqi forces spearheaded Operation New Market, successfully disrupting terrorist activity in the vicinity of Haditha. The mission's purpose was to maintain pressure on terrorists that began with Operation Matador, conducted in western Iraq May 7-14.

"The operation is successful to this point," said Col. Stephen Davis, the combat team's commanding officer. "We were able to achieve what we believe is total surprise, and we continue to do our series of coordinated searches for insurgents and for caches of munitions and weapons."

Five men with possible information on terrorist activity in the area have been detained for questioning.

About 120 kilometers away, in Ubaydi, multinational forces rescued an Iraqi man early May 26 during a raid on a suspected terrorist safe house.

The construction worker, recently employed to build an animal hospital, was found blindfolded and beaten in a house. The house also contained various improvised explosive device-making materials and communication devices. He explained to his rescuers that terrorists kidnapped him from his vehicle while he was driving to pick up medication for his young child. The man said terrorists repeatedly beat and whipped him on his exposed back, legs and arms while he was being held hostage.

Coalition forces are treating the man's wounds and will return him to his home after treatment, officials said. After analyzing his wounds, doctors believe he was held for nearly three days.

Terrorist presence and activity have recently increased in the area. During the last three months, since the arrival of coalition and Iraqi forces, numerous roadside bombs have been discovered in the vicinity of Haditha and numerous indirect-fire attacks have been launched against coalition forces assigned to protect the area.

In a separate operation, Iraqi army and U.S. soldiers from Task Force Baghdad captured 11 terror suspects, including two specifically targeted individuals, during four early-morning raids in western Baghdad May 26. The U.S. and Iraqi soldiers teamed up to take down the two specifically targeted terror suspects in a pinpointed cordon-and-search operation.

One target seized is thought to be involved with a terror cell that assassinates or kidnaps Iraqis working with the Iraqi army, police or coalition forces. The other target captured was a police officer under the previous regime. The suspect is now thought to be involved in two terror cells. Officials believe he watches a main road in the area for coalition convoys, then initiates and participates in attacks against them. Both men were taken into custody for questioning.

"The Iraqi army had the lead in this operation," said Army Lt. Col. Clifford Kent, a Task Force Baghdad spokesperson. "They executed the plan flawlessly. The capture of these two men may have saved the lives of many innocent Iraqi citizens."

Elsewhere in Iraq, a terrorist wounded during fighting died at about 5 p.m. local time today after being transported to a coalition medical-treatment facility. Officials released no further details on the incident.

In southern Baghdad May 26, two masked terrorists fired at a U.S. soldier manning an installation checkpoint, then fled in a vehicle. Ground patrol units and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters pursued the vehicle. The helicopters observed the terrorists exit the vehicle and enter a building. The ground patrol then arrived and took 12 terrorists in custody. All 12 are currently being held for questioning.

South of Baghdad, local Iraqis tipped off U.S. soldiers about a possible weapons cache. Upon searching the house, an ammunition cache was discovered and two residents were found with explosive material. They have been held for further questioning.

In southern Baghdad, a 155 mm round was located on the side of a highway. After clearing the area, the device was detonated harmlessly.

U.S. forces located and disarmed three improvised explosive devices at one potential bomb site in western Baghdad, two 155 mm rounds at another, and a bomb of unknown ordnance at a fourth site.

Multinational forces from 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), detained one suspected terrorist and seized a cache during operations in northern Iraq May 25. The soldiers, from the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, detained one individual suspected of terrorist activity during a raid in southern Mosul May 25. Suspects are in custody with no MNF injuries reported.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, had a weapons cache turned over to them in an area southeast of Mosul May 25. The cache consisted of mortar rounds, rocket propellant, sticks of plastic explosives, and an explosives detonator.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq press releases.)

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