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Iraq: U.S. Says Apache Helicopter Shot Down

Baghdad, 12 June 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The United States military says an Apache attack helicopter was "apparently shot down by hostile fire" today in western Iraq, but the two-man crew escaped uninjured. The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement that coalition forces were quickly able to recover the crew and secure the crash site.

The statement said two other Apache helicopters engaged with what were called "irregular forces" in the vicinity of the downed helicopter. The statement did not mention the exact location of the incident.

The U.S. military said earlier today that fighter jets had bombed what was described as a "terrorist training camp" about 150 kilometers north of Baghdad. U.S. ground forces later engaged in a firefight in the area. It was not immediately clear whether the downed Apache was linked to that operation.

U.S. forces for the past four days have been carrying out "Operation Peninsula Strike" in areas along the Tigris River to search for supporters of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The U.S. military says about 400 Iraqis have been detained so far in the operation.