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Iraq Transition

Militant group says video shows chopper going down

Story Highlights

• Militant group says it has video of an American helicopter being shot down
• Video released by umbrella militant group that includes al Qaeda in Iraq
• Authenticity has not been confirmed by CNN
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A militant group in Iraq has posted a video that shows what it says is an American helicopter being shot down.

The group says the two minute and 31 second video titled "the Hell of the Romans and the Apostates in the Land of the Two Rivers" shows the twin-rotor CH-46 Sea Knight that crashed in Anbar province on Wednesday.

The video shows a twin-rotor helicopter in the sky that appears to be struck by a projectile. Smoke bursts from the helicopter, which then speeds out of control toward land. Eventually the image of the craft morphs into a smoke-filled streak and then crashes. (Watch the helicopter spew smoke and flames Video)

The video was released by the Islamic State in Iraq, an umbrella militant group that includes al Qaeda in Iraq, and produced by Al Furqan Media, an insurgent operation. Its authenticity cannot be confirmed by CNN.

Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon that mechanical failure was the initial indication of the cause of the Sea Knight crash.

Six helicopters -- four military and two civilian contractor crafts --have been involved in crashes in Iraq in the past three weeks. Four of six were the result of enemy fire, the U.S. military has concluded.

The Web site text of the video said that while the "crusader army" said seven died. Witnesses were cited by an Al Furqan reporter as saying that 15 to 20 burned bodies were seen.

The text said a Chinook was downed. The Sea Knight, used by Marines, resembles a Chinook, used by the Army.

"Thanks and blessings are to God," the text said.

Jihadi songs can be heard in the video.

Lute cautioned against reaching conclusions from the video.

"This enemy is astute in the use of media. He has in the past a pattern of posting things and claiming attacks that did or did not occur. Or that attacks occurred that he claims but did not carry out. I'd be cautious of things posted on the Internet."

Sadrists want detained leader freed

Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are demanding the release of a deputy health minister linked to the group, an Iraqi parliament member said.

Members of the Sadrist movement have denounced the arrested of Hakem Abbas al-Zamili, who was detained Thursday in a raid Thursday conducted by special Iraqi army forces and backed by U.S. advisers, Saleh al-Ageili told CNN.

Deputy Health Minister Hakem Abbas al-Zamili is a senior member of the political group loyal to al-Sadr, whose Medhi Army militia is blamed for a large part of the sectarian violence throughout Iraq.

The Sadrists have described the raid as a violation of the Iraqi sovereignty and a provocation to the Iraqi government and their movement.

"We advise the occupation forces to provoke those who kill Iraqis every day from Baathists and terrorists and not the government officials who work days and nights to facilitate the work in the ministries," al-Ageili said.

He said it appears "foolish" that officials in a U.S. administration headed by "Bush the fool" believe the al-Sadr movement and its Mehdi Army militia "are behind the instability in Iraq."

"Our leader Muqtada Sadr is still calling for calm and not to confront the occupation forces and to be more patient in order to preserve Iraqi blood," al-Ageili said.

He was arrested in a raid conducted by about 120 Iraqi special forces troops and about 20 coalition advisers, Multi-National Forces spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said.

Iraqi Health Minister Ali al-Shammari criticized the way forces seized his deputy, calling the raid a humiliating blow to the dignity of the ministry and to the official seized.

Without naming al-Zamili, a U.S. military statement said Iraqi army forces had captured a senior Health Ministry official.

He is suspected of being a central figure in alleged corruption and the Mehdi Army's infiltration of the ministry, according to the U.S. statement.

"The suspect is implicated in the deaths of several [Ministry of Health] officials," the statement said.

Other developments

• Car bombs in Kirkuk and Mosul wounded 16 people on Friday, police said. The bomb in Kirkuk wounded a top police official and seven others. The bomb in Mosul targeted a police patrol and wounded eight people, including three police officers.

• A Pentagon unit that conducted intelligence assessments in advance of the Iraq war carried out "inappropriate actions," but they were neither "illegal or unauthorized" and did not mislead Congress, according to the Pentagon's acting inspector general. (Full story)

• Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday that serial numbers and markings on explosives used in Iraq provide "pretty good" evidence that Iran is providing either weapons or technology to militants there. (Full story)


Video footage released Wednesday shows a U.S. military helicopter smoldering near Baghdad.


• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide


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