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Two Army helicopter pilots are now presumed dead after their AH-64 Apache Longbow went down Saturday west of Yusufiyah, U.S. military officials in Baghdad said Sunday.

The helicopter came under enemy fire around 5:30 p.m., while conducting a combat air patrol, officials said. On Sunday, officials said “recovery efforts continue” and that the incident is under investigation.

The pilots’ names are being withheld pending notification of their families. The aircraft was assigned to Multi-National Division-Baghdad, which is led by the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas.

No unit information on the crew was released Sunday.

Yusufiyah is a Sunni-dominated city southwest of Baghdad and in the area sometimes referred to as the “Triangle of Death.”

The city has long been a problem spot for U.S. and Iraqi troops.

Saturday’s incident was the first time a U.S. helicopter has been reported shot down since January.

During a 10-day period of that month, three helicopters went down, killing 18 servicemembers. Two of the crashes were blamed on enemy fire.

An Internet posting on Saturday by a little-known insurgent group calling itself the “Lions of Islam” claimed responsibility for shooting down the Apache, but there was no way to confirm the claim’s authenticity.


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