Soldiers killed in Baghdad air crash

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Two special forces soldiers were killed in Iraq when the helicopter they were in crashed near Baghdad, it was revealed yesterday.

Two other British military personnel were seriously hurt when the RAF Puma came down south of the capital on Tuesday.

Gordon Brown told MPs yesterday that nobody should "jump to any conclusions" and that a "full investigation" would take place as questions were raised about the age of the Puma, the oldest helicopter operated by the RAF, in the third tragedy of its kind in just seven months.

Last night sources indicated the dead servicemen were SAS, while the Ministry of Defence refused to reveal the service or regiment of those killed.

A US military statement said a coalition helicopter which crashed near Salman Pak, on the outskirts of Baghdad, was not thought to have been shot down.

The Ministry of Defence said the injured personnel were recovering, and the next of kin of those involved had been informed.

Yesterday Liberal Democrat Paul Keetch (Hereford) demanded to know when UK special forces would be able to use new Chinook helicopters which he said were ordered by the previous Tory government.

Mr Brown said the UK had the biggest defence programme of capital investment over the next ten years of any government.