Two U.S. Marines died Wednesday when their attack helicopter crashed near Ramadi, and two other service members were killed in the city the day before by a roadside bomb, the military said. A U.S. warplane also dropped two bombs on a suspected insurgent command center near Ramadi on Wednesday, and it was not know whether casualties resulted.
The fighting began in Ramadi on Tuesday night, when insurgents used guns, rockets and roadside bombs to attack U.S. patrols, said police Capt. Nassir al-Alousi.
An Associated Press Television News video from the city's streets on Wednesday showed a burning civilian vehicle and what appeared to be the wreckage of a destroyed U.S. Humvee. A crowd of Iraqis gathered at the site, and one man, waving the remnants of a damaged U.S. M-16 rifle in the air, said the attacks had caused U.S. casualties.
On Wednesday, the U.S. command said a Marine and a sailor had died in Ramadi when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb Tuesday.
At 8:10 a.m. Wednesday, a AH-1W Super Cobra crashed near the city, which is 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, killing its two Marine crew members, the military said.
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.
At 2 p.m. Wednesday, a Marine F-18D fighter jet drooped two 500-pound bombs on what the military described as an insurgent command center near where the Cobra had crashed, the AP says.
The four U.S. deaths raised to at least 2,032 the number of members of the military who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associate Press count.