Sunday, January 28, 2007

U.S. helicopter shot down near Najaf


A U.S. helicopter was shot down early Sunday afternoon near the provincial capital Najaf during a pitched battle with fighters described as religious fanatics.

A McClatchy Newspapers correspondent from Najaf, Qasim Zen, observed the helicopter lose control and crash to the ground in flames after it appeared to have been struck by rocket fired from the ground. The correspondent had been observing the battle from a safe position about half a mile away from the fight in the village of al Zarga. Al Zarga is about 5 miles from Najaf and about 80 miles south of Baghdad.

No information on U.S. casualties was available. Military public affairs officials in Baghdad said Sunday afternoon they were unaware of the helicopter downing.

The correspondent observed the helicopter shot down about 1:35 p.m. Iraqi time Sunday (5:35 a.m. EST).

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