Isis militants 'shoot down' Iraqi helicopter killing both pilots on board

Militants used a shoulder-fired rocket launcher to bring the helicopter down

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The Independent Online

Isis militants have shot down an Iraqi military helicopter, killing both pilots on board, 60 miles north of Baghdad.

An Iraqi senior defence ministry official said Sunni militants used a shoulder-fired rocket launcher to bring down the helicopter, which was hit on the outskirts of the Shiite holy city of Samarra on Saturday.

The claim was corroborated by an army official. Both spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to journalists.

The helicopter attacked by Isis (also known as Islamic State) was an EC635 model, which is used for transportation, surveillance and combat.

It is the third Iraqi military helicopter that Isis has shot down in recent months, raising concerns around the militants’ ability to attack aircraft while the US is leading on-going airstrikes against extremists.

The attacks have sparked fears that militants may have captured ground-to-air missiles capable of downing planes after they overran Iraqi and Syrian army bases over the summer.

In October, at least two other Iraqi military helicopters were shot down near the city of Beiji by terrorists.

European airlines including Virgin Atlantic, KLM and Air France, U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines and Dubai-based Emirates changed their commercial flight plans over the summer to avoid Iraqi airspace.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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