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U.S. Army Black Hawk Helicopter Crashes Near Karbala

The first reports about the crash said the helicopter might have been brought down with small arms or machine gun fire.

However, U.S. Central Command spokesman General Vincent Brooks said Thursday that officials don’t think the Black Hawk was downed by Iraqi troops.

“The investigation into that is ongoing,” he said. “We do have some casualties as a result of that — we don’t think as a result of hostile fire.”

Sources at the Pentagon officials said seven soldiers aboard the helicopter were killed and four were wounded and rescued.

A Pentagon official told the Associated Press that search and rescue personnel were able to locate the scene of the crash and rescue some survivors. The number of dead and injured is still not confirmed.

According American military sources at Central Command in Qatar, the Black Hawk was conducting a so-called “command and control” operation at the time of the shoot-down.

Media reports said the helicopter was hovering above a battle between American infantry troops and the remnants of the Medina Division of the Iraqi Republican Guard, directing ground troops and monitoring Iraqi positions.

Military sources had said that coalition forces had moved further north than Karbala, but Iraqi resistance reportedly continued around the Shiite holy city of Karbala.

The Black Hawk was the second U.S. helicopter to crash in the Karbala region. A U.S. Army Apache assault helicopter was shot down March 24th during an assault on Republican Guard forces. The two-man crew was captured by Iraqi forces and images of them were broadcast on state television.

The Black Hawk helicopter is a major transport helicopters in the U.S. fleet and can carry as many as 11 soldiers in addition to its crew of four.

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