IS militants shoot down military helicopter in Iraq

Baghdad, Dec 13: Militants of the Islamic State (IS) Sunni radical group shot down an Iraqi army helicopter and killed the two pilots aboard during clashes in Salahudin province north of Baghdad, a provincial security source said Saturday.

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The incident occurred Friday near the town of al-Mu'tasim, just south of the city of Samarra, some 120 km north of Iraq's capital Baghdad, during battles between the Iraqi security forces and IS militants, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The militants brought down the helicopter with a shoulder-fired rocket launcher, the source said.

The towns of Mkeshifa and al-Mu'tasim north and south of the city of Samarra respectively were the scenes of fierce clashes for two days and the Iraqi troops, backed by Shia militias and aircraft, managed to free the two towns from the IS militants a few days ago.

Salahudin is a predominantly Sunni province and its capital Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, is the hometown of former president Saddam Hussein.

Large parts of the province have been under the control of the Sunni militants since June 11, a day after bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and the militants who took control of the country's northern city of Mosul and later seized swathes of territory in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces.

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