A United States military aircraft carrying US personnel has crashed in western Iraq, US Central Command said Thursday.
“A US military aircraft has crashed in Western Iraq with US service members aboard,” CENTCOM said in a Thursday evening statement.
“Rescue teams are responding to the scene of the downed aircraft at this time,” the military statement noted. The reasons for crash are unknown at this time, but “an investigation will be initiated to determine the cause of the incident,” the military said.
According to several reports, the downed aircraft is an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter. Just last month, US Air Force Central Command announced the that the US would be sending A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft and HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar to support US President Donald Trump’s South Asia strategy and for ongoing operations in Afghanistan.
According to US defense officials who spoke to CNN, the Black Hawk-variant chopper was not on a combat mission and up to seven service members were aboard the aircraft at the time of the incident. Pave Hawk aircraft have a primary mission to “conduct day or night personnel recovery operations into hostile environment to recover isolated personnel during war,” a US Air Force fact sheet reads.
Reuters reports that the helicopter went down near al-Qaim, a town in Anbar Province near the Syrian border. Initial reports citing anonymous military sources say the crash has caused fatalities, but this has yet to be confirmed by the US military.