US choppers gunned down by Iraqi fire

BAGHDAD - The US military yesterday revealed that four US helicopters which crashed in the past two weeks had been shot down by insurgents.

BAGHDAD - The US military yesterday revealed that four US helicopters which crashed in the past two weeks had been shot down by insurgents.

A total of 20 troops and private security guards have been killed.

Major General William Caldwell said it appeared as if the four helicopters had taken "some kind of anti-Iraqi ground fire" which brought them down.

He said the incidents were not unusual because "there has been an ongoing effort since we have been here to target our helicopters".

The military was already changing its tactics to avoid more attacks, he said.

"Based on what we have seen, we are already making adjustments to our tactics, techniques and procedures as to how we employ our helicopters," the general said.

Between January 20 and February 2, four US helicopters, three of them military aircraft, crashed in and around Baghdad.

The January 20 crash, in which 12 US troops were killed when a military helicopter went down northeast of Baghdad, was one of the worst since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq by US-led coalition forces.

On January 22, a US Blackwater helicopter went down in Baghdad killing four US private security guards.

On January 28, another military helicopter crashed north of the Shiite holy city of Najaf in central Iraq, killing two soldiers. On February 2 a military chopper crashed north of Baghdad, killing two more troops. - Sapa-AFP

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