BAGHDAD, Iraq – A U.S. Army Apache (search) attack helicopter was shot down Thursday in western Iraq, apparently by hostile fire, a military statement said. It was the first military aircraft downed by ground fire since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's (search) regime two months ago.
The helicopter's two crew members were not injured and were rescued almost immediately as coalition troops secured the crash site, according to a statement by the U.S. Central Command (search).
Two additional Apache helicopters assisted in engaging irregular forces in the vicinity of the downed aircraft, the military statement said. All helicopters involved belong to the 101st Airborne Division.
The statement did not say where the downing occurred, but U.S. troops have been meeting growing resistance from insurgents in the area north and west of Baghdad. Elements of the 101st Division were in action Thursday at a site 95 miles north of Baghdad, where the military said they were taking part in an attack on a "a terrorist training camp."
It was not immediately clear whether the downing of the Apache was connected with that operation.
Meanwhile, the Central Command said that an F-16 fighter-bomber crashed early Thursday southwest of Baghdad.
The statement said the pilot ejected safely and was rescued by ground forces. It said the cause of the incident is unknown at this time and will be investigated.