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US service member killed in helicopter crash in Iraq

New York Times  

WASHINGTON — A US service member died in Iraq on Sunday in a helicopter crash after a joint counterterrorism operation, military officials said.

Several other troops were wounded, and three were evacuated for treatment, said the US-led military coalition, which is based in Baghdad.

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In a statement, the coalition said the crash is under investigation and that there were no indications it was caused by hostile fire. The location of the crash was not immediately available.

The Pentagon has insisted that the primary role of the 5,000 US troops stationed in Iraq is to advise local soldiers in the waning fight against the Islamic State. But Sunday’s death shows how US troops are still participating in operations against the militants.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Colonel Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed the death of an American but gave no additional details about the crash.

A report in Newsweek identified the helicopter as a Special Operations-variant of the UH-60 Black Hawk, a workhorse of the US military’s helicopter fleet.

The crash comes five months after an Air Force helicopter ran into electrical wires in western Iraq, killing all seven troops aboard.

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In a separate development, Iraq’s top court on Sunday ratified the results of the country’s May parliamentary elections, the Associated Press reported. A manual ballot recount was ordered by the outgoing chamber after charges of irregularities.

The Federal Court’s decision paves the way for the president to summon lawmakers to an inaugural session of the new, 329-seat house. In theory, Parliament should then proceed to elect a speaker, a president, and a prime minister, who will in turn form a new government.

However, political wrangling over who gets to be prime minister will probably delay the process for weeks, maybe months.

A coalition led by maverick Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr won the largest number of seats, 54, followed by an alliance of government-sanctioned militias known as Hashed, with 47.

ASSOCIATED PRESS