Two pilots killed in downing of U.S. chopper over Youssifiyah
May 16, 2006
Two American pilots were killed Sunday when their helicopter was shot down over Youssifiyah, Iraq, military officials in Baghdad confirmed Monday.
Few details were released about the incident, but it is the second time in the past two months an American helicopter has been shot down over the town. On April 1, an Apache attack helicopter was brought down in a similar fashion. Both pilots on that aircraft were killed.
The names and units of the pilots killed in Sunday’s incident have not yet been released, but the area is generally under the purview of the 4th Infantry Division. Youssifiyah is around 10 miles south of Baghdad and has been a hotbed of the insurgency.
Also on Monday, U.S. officials issued a news release detailing a “coordinated ground and air attack against an enemy safe haven” that took place on Sunday in the city. It was not known Monday whether the attack and the helicopter incident were related.
The U.S. command said its forces killed 25 suspected insurgents and arrested four others in strikes that destroyed four suspected safe houses and a vehicle loaded with weapons and ammunition.
The attack took place in the afternoon, officials said. Three female civilians were wounded in the incident and were taken to via helicopter to the 10th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad.
Insurgents “fired at the departing helicopters, including the transport carrying the injured civilian females,” the release read. “The ground forces called in close air support to suppress the threat, and several sorties of fixed and rotary wing aircraft tracked enemy positions and killed approximately 20” more enemy fighters.
In another release, U.S. officials said the military killed 16 suspected insurgents, including one suspected of involvement in the April 1 shoot-down of the Apache. That man, Abu Mustafa, and the others were killed in a series of raids in Latifiyah over the weekend, officials said.
Mustafa was described as “a member of al Qaeda” and “a known weapons smuggler who allegedly facilitated movement of missiles and rockets within the al Qaeda terrorist network,” according to the U.S. military.
A new al-Qaida group had claimed responsibility for downing that Apache and posted a gruesome video on the Web showing men dragging the burning body of what appeared to be an American soldier across a field as they shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great!”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.