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Crashed ‘copters were under fire

The U.S. Army has released the cause of crash of two helicopters near Kirkuk, Iraq, last month, a crash which killed all four pilots aboard, including Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin Todd of Colville.

The two helicopters were hit by enemy fire and collided while trying to take evasive action.

This is a significant shift from earlier statements on the crash. After the Jan. 26 crash, the Army said the crash did not appear to be a result of enemy fire.

A day or so later, when a Sunni rebel group claimed to have brought down two helicopters, the Army reiterated that the crash "did not appear to be by enemy action." The rebels don't know what they're talking about, the Army said; they didn't even identify the helicopters correctly.

Now it seems that the rebels may have had the make and model wrong -- these were Kiowas, and the rebels claimed they shot down Apaches -- but they at least did have a hand in causing the crash.

The crash remains under investigation, but this at least lifts any cloud that the crash was a result of "pilot error."

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.