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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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19 killed in Islamist militant attack on Nigerian village

Thompson Reuters

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MAIDUGURI— At least 19 people have been killed in an Islamist militant attack on a village in northeast Nigeria, a survivor of the attack said.

The militants attacked the village of Mailari in the Guzamala region of Borno state at around 2 am Sunday, according to the survivor, Abatcha Umar.

The strike is the latest blow to Nigeria’s efforts to defeat insurgencies by the Nigerian Islamist Boko Haram group and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA).

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Umar said he had counted 19 people killed. However,an aid worker at a camp that received the survivors, and who declined to be identified, put the death toll at 63.

The Islamist militants had been spotted around the village three days before their attack, said Umar. Locals had warned Nigerian troops stationed in the nearby town of Gudumbali, but no action was taken, he said.

In recent months, the military has suffered its heaviest defeats in years, commanders have been repeatedly replaced, and special forces soldiers have mutinied.

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