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Airlift carries soldiers deep into Iraq

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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

CAMP UDARI, Kuwait (CNN) -- Scores of American soldiers were airlifted deep into Iraq Friday in what U.S. officials called the longest helicopter-borne air assault operation ever.

The assault was a "huge inroad" into Iraq, putting "scores" of infantry troops in place, officials told a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel who is with the 159th Aviation Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, the famed Screaming Eagles. (Coalition forces)

As measured by the distance the assault penetrated hostile territory, it was the longest in military history, said assistant division commander Brig. Gen. E.J. Sinclair.

The operation started Friday at dawn after several days of sandstorms delayed it, officials said.

An air convoy of 200 Black Hawk, Apache, Chinook and Kiowa helicopters landed at two forward bases, unloading infantry soldiers and refueling. (Weapons)

Later in the day, the Screaming Eagles made their first attack deep inside Iraq, using dozens of helicopters to hit an Iraqi armored brigade about 100 miles southwest of Baghdad, reported a CNN correspondent who also with the 101st.

Coalition planes were also involved in the attack, which destroyed a number of Iraqi tanks.

Two of the Apache Longbow helicopters made hard landings during the operation, leaving one pilot with a broken leg. But there were no other casualties.

CNN Correspondent Ryan Chilcote and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter Katherine M. Skiba contributed to this report.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This report was written in accordance with Pentagon ground rules allowing so-called embedded reporting, in which journalists join deployed troops. Among the rules accepted by all participating news organizations is an agreement not to disclose sensitive operational details.

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