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US Military: Black Hawk Helicopter Shot Down in Iraq

21 February 2007

The U.S. military says a helicopter has apparently been shot down, the eighth crash of an American chopper in Iraq in the past month.

A spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Garver, says initial indications are the Black Hawk helicopter was hit by ground fire north of Baghdad. The military says there were no casualties among the nine-member crew.

Also Wednesday, a car bomb blast near a police checkpoint in the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf killed at least 13 people.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the withdrawal of about 1,600 British troops from Iraq in the coming months.

Mr. Blair told the House of Commons that British forces will turn over security for the southern city of Basra to Iraqi forces. He said the withdrawal will drop Britain's troop level in Iraq to 5,500.

The White House said President Bush views the withdrawal as a sign of success since British forces in Basra are able to transfer more control to Iraqis.

Prime Minister Blair has been one of President Bush's staunchest allies on the war in Iraq.

The Bush administration is in the process of sending 21,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq, mostly in an effort to secure Baghdad.

Denmark also announced a troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters

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