A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter went down in northern Iraq, killing all 12 Americans believed to be aboard in the deadliest crash in nearly a year, while five U.S. Marines died in weekend attacks, the military said Sunday.
The latest deaths followed an especially bloody week in which about 200 Iraqis and a dozen U.S. troops were killed, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella. Iraqi politicians, meanwhile, claimed headway in forming a stable coalition government following the Dec. 15 elections, whose final results may be released this week, but a definite up tick in insurgent violence has plagued the new year, Cobiella reports.
U.S. military officials said the UH-60 Black Hawk crashed just before midnight Saturday about seven miles east of Tal Afar, a northern city near the Syrian border that has seen heavy fighting with insurgents.
"All (those killed) are believed to be U.S. citizens," military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said.
He did not say what caused the crash, but bad weather has wracked most of Iraq.
In other developments: Three Marines were killed Sunday by small arms attacks in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, the military said. Two other Marines were killed Saturday by roadside bombs in separate incidents, the military said. With the latest Marine deaths, at least 2,199 members of the U.S. military have died since the war started in 2003, according to an Associated Press count. That toll did not include those killed aboard the Black Hawk. In other violence Sunday, five people died in separate attacks in Baghdad, including a policeman killed by a suicide car bomber targeting an Interior Ministry patrol. Seven others were wounded.A French engineer abducted Dec. 5 apparently was dumped on a Baghdad street by his fleeing captors and recovered by U.S. troops, who turned him turned over to the French Embassy on Sunday, according to Iraqi police and the French Foreign Ministry in Paris. Bernard Planche, 52, was kidnapped on his way to work at a water plant. Insurgents have kidnapped more than 250 foreigners in the past two years, aiming to force U.S.-led troops to leave Iraq or prevent Arab nations from strengthening their ties with Baghdad.
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