4 Marines die in helicopter crash

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BAGHDAD, Iraq – A Sea Knight helicopter carrying 16 Marines went down in a lake west of the Iraqi capital in Anbar, killing four of them in the volatile province where an Air Force fighter jet crashed last week, the military said Monday.

The twin-rotor CH-46 helicopter from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing made the emergency landing Sunday near the shore of Lake Qadisiyah “in which the pilots maintained control of the aircraft the entire time,” the military said.

It said the helicopter had experienced mechanical problems and was not hit by gunfire.

Twelve passengers survived; a Marine was pulled from the water but attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. The bodies of three missing Marines were found in a subsequent search, the military said.

The Marines died in Anbar, a province the size of North Carolina that stretches west from Baghdad to the borders of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, where many of Iraq’s Sunni Arab insurgent groups are based. A U.S. fighter jet crashed last week in a field in the region, killing the Air Force pilot.

At least 13 American service members died over the weekend, including eight in Anbar. The deaths bring to at least 2,901 the number of U.S. personnel killed in the war that started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.