U.S. military helicopter crashes in Iraq with seven people aboard

RAMADI, Iraq, March 16 (Reuters) - A U.S. military helicopter crashed in western Iraq with seven people on board, U.S. officials said late on Thursday.

Two U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity and citing initial reports, said the aircraft was a HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter and it crashed near al-Qaim, a town in Anbar province close to the Syrian border.

One of the officials said that fatalities were "likely" and so far there were no indications that the helicopter was brought down by hostile fire.

In a statement, U.S. Central Command said a U.S. military aircraft carrying U.S. service members crashed in western Iraq.

"Rescue teams are responding to the scene of the downed aircraft at this time," the statement said.

Further details of the incident were not yet known, but Central Command said an investigation will be launched to determine the cause of the crash.

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Soldiers celebrate after Iraq declares victory over ISIS
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Soldiers celebrate after Iraq declares victory over ISIS
Members of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitaries, celebrate after the Iraqi Prime Minister declared victory in the war against the Islamic State (IS) group, about 80 kilometres (about 50 miles) along the Iraqi-Syrian border west of the border town of al-Qaim on December 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Imam Ali Division, one of the groups fighting within the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitaries, celebrate after the Iraqi Prime Minister declared victory in the war against the Islamic State (IS) group, about 80 kilometres (about 50 miles) along the Iraqi-Syrian border west of the border town of al-Qaim on December 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units) celebrate and take 'selfie' pictures with their cell phones, after the Iraqi Prime Minister declared victory in the war against the Islamic State (IS) group, about 80 kilometres (about 50 miles) along the Iraqi-Syrian border west of the border town of al-Qaim on December 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Iraqi forces and the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units) wave as they ride on an infanty-fighting vehicle (IFV) near the Iraqi-Syrian border, about 80 kilometres (about 50 miles) west of the border town of al-Qaim on December 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Furqat al-Abbas Brigade of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitaries celebrate with an Iraqi flag defaced with their combat insignia, after the Iraqi Prime Minister declared victory in the war against the Islamic State (IS) group, about 80 kilometres (about 50 miles) along the Iraqi-Syrian border west of the border town of al-Qaim on December 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units) watch the televised statement of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in the southern city of Basra on December9, 2017. Abadi declared victory in a three-year war by Iraqi forces to expel the Islamic State jihadist group that at its height endangered Iraq's very existence. / AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI (Photo credit should read HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units) watch the televised statement of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in the southern city of Basra on December9, 2017. Abadi declared victory in a three-year war by Iraqi forces to expel the Islamic State jihadist group that at its height endangered Iraq's very existence. / AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI (Photo credit should read HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units) watch the televised statement of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in the southern city of Basra on December9, 2017. Abadi declared victory in a three-year war by Iraqi forces to expel the Islamic State jihadist group that at its height endangered Iraq's very existence. / AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI (Photo credit should read HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Iraqi forces and the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units) carry their firearms as they stand on an infanty-fighting vehicle (IFV) near the Iraqi-Syrian border, about 80 kilometres (about 50 miles) west of the border town of al-Qaim on December 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Iraqi forces and the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units) ride on infanty-fighting vehicles (IFV) near the Iraqi-Syrian border, about 80 kilometres (about 50 miles) west of the border town of al-Qaim on December 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
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The mayor of al-Qaim, Ahmed al-Mahlawi, also told Reuters there were seven people on board.

The United States acknowledges that it has about 5,200 troops in Iraq that are part of a coalition fighting Islamic State militants.

Late last year, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared final victory over Islamic State, three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq's territory.

(Reporting by Reuters Staff in Ramadi and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)

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