1 dead as US copter crashes in Iraq
BAGHDAD - A Black Hawk helicopter crashed at a major American air base in Iraq, killing one US service member and injuring 12 others, the military said yesterday.
The UH-60 Black Hawk went down Saturday night at the Balad Air Base, about 50 miles north of Baghdad. The military said the cause of the crash was under investigation and gave no other details.
The helicopter went down on a night of high winds that tore through the area, whipping up a fierce sandstorm that was followed by thunder, lightning, and rain.
The name and other details about the service member killed were being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The Black Hawk is the military’s mainstay tactical transport helicopter, replacing the UH-1 Huey. It is designed to carry up to four crewmembers and a fully equipped infantry squad of 11, but it was not clear how many people were aboard the aircraft that crashed Saturday.
With Saturday’s death, at least 4,345 members of the US military have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
It was not clear what mission the Black Hawk was on when it went down, but the US military relies heavily on helicopters to ferry troops, dignitaries, and supplies to avoid the threat of ambushes and roadside bombs.
The Balad Air Base was originally a Saddam Hussein-era airfield. It was seized by American forces in the early days of the 2003 invasion and has since grown to be one of the largest in Iraq. It is now home to more than 20,000 US forces and provides air power, logistics, and counterterrorism support, as well as training for Iraqi security forces.
Elsewhere in Iraq on yesterday, a roadside bomb exploded on a main road in Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, killing the driver of a car and injuring four passengers, a local policeman said. And in Baghdad, unidentified gunmen shot and killed a police officer outside his home, another officer said.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterdaythat the United States and Iraq must protect the residents of Iraq’s Camp Ashraf from violence and abuse.
The situation in Camp Ashraf “constitutes a humanitarian and human rights issue of real magnitude and urgency,’’ Archbishop Rowan Williams said in a statement on his website.
“There is a strong argument in terms of international law that the Ashraf residents are “protected persons.’’ he said.
“Both the government of Iraq and the government of the United States - as the agency responsible for the transfer of the residents to another jurisdiction - have an obligation to secure the rights of these residents and to defend them from violence and abuse.’’
Williams, the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Church, said a United Nations monitoring team must be established to visit the camp.