7 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq helicopter crash

Everyone on board a military helicopter that crashed in Iraq was killed, U.S. Central Command said Friday.

An HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, similar to the one pictured, crashed in western Iraq on Thursday. File Photo by Andy M. Kin/U.S. Air Force | License Photo
An HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, similar to the one pictured, crashed in western Iraq on Thursday. File Photo by Andy M. Kin/U.S. Air Force | License Photo

The HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter — a variant of the Black Hawk — crashed after hitting a power line in western Anbar province on Thursday.

A Pentagon spokesman traveling with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said seven troops were on the helicopter, NPR reported Friday.

President Trump acknowledged the crash in a tweet: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the brave troops lost in the helicopter crash on the Iraq-Syria border yesterday. Their sacrifice in service to our country will never be forgotten.”

The crash, which does not appear to be a result of enemy activity, remains under investigation, according to the CENTCOM statement.

“All personnel aboard were killed in the crash,” said Brig. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga, director of operations, Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve. “This tragedy reminds us of the risks our men and women face every day in service of our nations. We are thinking of the loved ones of these service members today.”

Names of the soldiers will be released by the U.S. Department of Defense after next of kin have been notified.

“We are grateful to the Iraqi Security Forces for their immediate assistance in response to this tragic incident,” Braga said.

The United States has been fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq since 2014.

By Danielle Haynes and Susan McFarland