ISIS Shoots Down an Iraqi Military Helicopter, Killing 2

BAGHDAD — Insurgents shot down an Iraqi military helicopter on Wednesday near the refinery town of Baiji, killing two onboard, Iraqi military officials said.

It was the second time in less than a week that militants of the extremist group the Islamic State have shot down an Iraqi military helicopter, raising the stakes for the Iraqi Air Force and the United States-led coalition, which have dominated the sky during a multipronged campaign of airstrikes on the insurgency that has lasted weeks.

The American military command began deploying attack helicopters in recent days in its campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, putting its pilots at greater risk from ground fire.

Islamic State fighters apparently used a shoulder-fired missile on Wednesday morning to bring down the helicopter, which was on a surveillance mission northeast of Baiji, a town about 120 miles north of Baghdad and the site of the country’s largest oil refinery, officials said. The Associated Press reported that the aircraft was a Bell 407, primarily used for surveillance.

The pilot and co-pilot were killed in the attack, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the record. By early afternoon, rescue teams had still not been able to reach the crash site and recover the bodies, officials said.

Last Friday, militants, also using a shoulder-fired missile, shot down an Iraqi military helicopter near Baiji, killing the pilot and co-pilot. That aircraft was a Russian-made Mi-35 attack helicopter.

Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft generally fly at high altitudes that put them beyond the range of weapons that the Islamic State is thought to possess, officials say. But helicopters, which fly slower and at much lower altitudes, are vulnerable.

Beginning Sunday, the American military command has used Apache helicopters to conduct airstrikes in Anbar Province in western Iraq. The Islamic State has been entrenched there since the beginning of the year and has been in near-constant clashes with Iraqi security forces as the group seeks to gain control of strategic transportation corridors connecting the Syrian border with Baghdad, and northern Iraq with the south.

An employee of The New York Times contributed reporting from Tikrit, Iraq.

An employee of The New York Times contributed reporting from Tikrit, Iraq.


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