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US Military Helicopter Crashes in Iraq-Officials
Thu March 20, 2003 08:10 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. military Special Operations helicopter made a crash landing in southern Iraq early on Thursday but the crew and elite troops aboard were rescued, U.S. officials said.

The crash of the helicopter -- believed to be an upgraded MH-53 special operations aircraft -- occurred before bombing and cruise missile raids were launched against targets on the outskirts of Baghdad, the officials told Reuters.

The officials refused to say exactly where the "hard landing" occurred, but suggested that the helicopter would be destroyed to keep it from falling into Iraqi hands. One official said the helicopter was part of a drive to get elite troops into areas of Iraq ahead of a major ground invasion "at the appropriate time."

The Pentagon refused comment. "We do not discuss any operational incidents," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, in response to questions.

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