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Helicopter crash kills 3 Polish troops


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Iraqis look at a car destroyed when a U.S. tank drove over it in Baghdad's al-Dora district Wednesday.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A Polish helicopter made an emergency landing near Karbala on Wednesday, killing three soldiers and wounding four, the Polish military said.

Engine trouble forced down the Sokol chopper, officials said.

The incident brings the number of Polish deaths in Iraq to 16.

The crash came as U.S. forces were stepping up the airlifting of supplies to troops because of the threat of insurgent attacks against ground convoys.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper authorized the increase in flights in November to reduce the number of convoys traveling on dangerous Iraqi roads.

Air Force statistics show that during a monthlong period in November and December, air cargo flights carried 450 tons of material per day -- about 100 tons per day more than past airlifts.

Officials said the increase in flights kept more than 400 trucks and about 1,050 drivers and military escorts off the dangerous convoy routes during that time.

U.S. commanders are analyzing whether the Air Force could increase the number of flights and looking at other methods to improve convoy safety.

Officials have faced questions about the number of vehicles in use in Iraq that lack armor. (Full story)

Official: 'Chemical Ali' to stand trial

An Iraqi Defense Ministry official told CNN Wednesday that Ali Hassan al-Majid -- also known as "Chemical Ali" -- will stand trial sometime before the end of the month. One observer said, however, that it was an investigative hearing and not a trial that would begin next week.

If al-Majid does go to trial next week, he would be the first member of Saddam Hussein's former regime to do so.

Al-Majid is known for his alleged role in the use of chemical weapons on Iraqi civilians.

Allawi announced on Tuesday that trials of former regime members would begin next week.

Saddam and 10 high-profile members of his regime also face war crimes proceedings.(Full story)

Election deadline

Allawi on Wednesday announced his candidacy for a seat on the transitional national assembly.

Allawi, who will run on a 200-strong coalition list, made the announcement at a news conference.

Wednesday is the deadline for registration lists and the official start of campaigning for the January 30 election.

The 275-member assembly, which will choose a president and a prime minister, is charged with developing a permanent constitution that will be placed before voters in a referendum.

Other developments

  • Marines killed three suspected insurgents and captured 13 others south of Baghdad Tuesday, the U.S. military said in a statement Wednesday. U.S. and Iraqi troops have detained 96 suspected insurgents in northern Babil and southern Baghdad provinces since Sunday, the statement said.
  • A U.S. soldier died late Tuesday from a gunshot wound he suffered while traveling in a convoy south of Baghdad, a U.S. military statement said. In a separate incident, a U.S. Marine was killed in action Tuesday in the al Anbar province, a U.S. military statement said. The deaths brought the number of U.S. troops to die in the war to 1,307. A total of 1,453 coalition troops have died since the war began.
  • About 1,000 soldiers in western Baghdad took a break Tuesday from the war's day-to-day grind to be entertained by comedian Robin Williams, former NFL quarterback John Elway, and sportscaster and model Leeann Tweeden. (Full story)
  • CNN's Kevin Flower, Auday Sadik, Cal Perry and Mike Mount contributed to this report.


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