BAGHDAD,(Reuters) – The U.S. military said it was checking reports that a helicopter, possibly a Chinook transport aircraft, had either crashed or made an emergency landing near Baghdad on Wednesday.
An Iraqi policeman who had been to the area northwest of Baghdad told Reuters he had seen wreckage on the ground. One witness who said he saw the helicopter come down also said he had seen wreckage.
U.S. soldiers had moved in to secure the area, witnesses said.
“We have heard about this … but I cannot confirm anything at this stage,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.
The U.S. military said on Sunday it was adjusting its tactics in Iraq after four helicopters were shot down over a two-week period.
Those helicopters were shot down in four separate incidents in which 21 U.S. servicemen and private security contractors were killed. Dozens of U.S. helicopters have come down, some hit by missiles or gunfire, in four years of fighting in Iraq.
But the high number lost in such a short time had raised questions about whether militants had changed tactics or were using more sophisticated weapons.
At least two witnesses said they saw the helicopter, which they described as a twin-rotor Chinook, come down on Wednesday amid gunfire from the ground. Some witnesses said they saw smoke before the helicopter went down, while others said they had not seen any.
The Chinook has two crew and can carry up to 55 passengers. They are used widely to transport troops and cargo around Iraq.