A U.S. Marine attack helicopter crashed near Ramadi on Wednesday, killing two crew members, after insurgents fought with American ground forces in the city, destroying at least one of their Humvees, police said. An Associated Press Television News video from the streets of Ramadi showed a burning civilian vehicle and what appeared to be the wreckage of the destroyed Humvee.
A crowd of Iraqis gathered at the site, and one man, waving a damaged machine gun in the air, said the attacks had caused U.S. casualties. Police Capt. Nassir al-Alousi said insurgents had used guns, rockets and roadside bombs to attack U.S. patrols late Tuesday.
The U.S. military in Baghdad said it had no immediate information of ground fighting in Ramadi on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
But the U.S. command said the AH-1W Super Cobra went down about 8:10 a.m. near Ramadi, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, killing the two crew members.
The military said the cause of the crash was being investigated. APTN quoted another Iraqi man who said he saw the crash and that insurgents "fired at the helicopter and shot it down."
Both Iraqi men refused to give their names out of concern for their own safety in Ramadi, where fighting between coalition forces and insurgents is common.
The Marine deaths raised to at least 2,030 the number of members of the U.S. military who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an AP count.
In other violence Wednesday, nine Iraqis were killed and 19 wounded in three roadside bomb attacks and six drive-by shootings. Most of the violence occurred in the capital, the AP reports.
In the worst attack, a roadside bomb aimed at a U.S. military convoy south of Baghdad hit a minibus instead, killing five Iraqis, police said.
The U.S. command also announced that it is stepping up counterinsurgency training for newly arrived officers to give them the latest tactics about protecting patrols from such attacks.
At least 93 American service members died during October, making it the fourth deadliest month for the troops in the Iraq war. Many of the victims were killed by homemade bombs that the Pentagon has confirmed are becoming more powerful and technologically sophisticated.
The strike was defensive in nature and came in response to three attacks on the US military in February