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US military helicopter carrying 7 people has crashed in Iraq

AP Associated Press

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WASHINGTON — A US military helicopter with seven service members on board has crashed in western Iraq, US officials said Thursday.

The officials said that so far there is no indication that the Pave Hawk helicopter was shot down.

The helicopter is used by the Air Force for combat search and rescue, and was in transit from one location to another when it went down Thursday afternoon near the town of Qaim in Anbar Province

Officials said that rescuers were responding to the location, but other details were not yet available. It’s not clear if there were any survivors.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the crash before it was made public.

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In a short statement, US Central Command said that “rescue teams are responding to the scene of the downed aircraft at this time,” adding that an investigation will be started to determine the cause of the incident.

The US-led coalition battling Islamic State insurgents in Iraq and Syria have an outpost in Qaim, which is located near the Syrian border. The anti-IS campaign accelerated through much of last year, as coalition and Iraq forces battled to take back a string of cities and towns.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over IS in Mosul in July. In the following months Iraqi forces retook a handful of other IS-held towns including Tal Afar in August, Hawija in September and Qaim in October.

In November, Iraqi forces retook the last Iraqi town held by IS—Rawah, near the border with Syria.

The US-led coalition has continued to work with Iraq and Syrian Democratic Forces to shore up the border region to make sure that foreign fighters and insurgents can’t move freely across the region.

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Russian rocket fails in the mid air, crew lands safely

Thompson Reuters

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COSMODROME—Booster rocket carrying a Soyuz spacecraft with a Russian and US astronaut on board headed for the International Space Station failed in mid-air on Thursday, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing.

U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin landed safely without any harm.

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Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, quoted by Interfax, said the problem occurred when the first and second stages of the booster rocket were in the process of separating.

The rocket was launched from the Soviet-era cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. A Reuters reporter who observed the launch from around 1 km away said that it had gone smoothly in its initial stage.

“Search and rescue teams are in the air and heading towards the expected touchdown location for the Soyuz spacecraft returning to Earth carrying two crew members,” NASA said in a statement.

 

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