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U.S. Military Helicopter Crashes in Iraq-Syria Border, Pentagon Confirms

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U.S. troops walk as a U.S. Army C-47 Chinook helicopter flies over the village of Oreij, south of Mosul, on February 22, 2017. The Defense Department has confirmed that an incident has occurred involving one of its helicopters in Iraq on March 15. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

Updated | A U.S. military helicopter has crashed in western Iraq, killing all seven personnel on board.

The Defense Department confirmed to Newsweek on Thursday that an "incident" occurred involving one of its helicopters in Iraq, as reports emerged that an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in the Al-Qaim region near the country's border with Syria. As more information surfaced in ABC News and CNN reports that identified the aircraft and potential fatalaties, the U.S. coalition elaborated.

Related: ISIS Tries to Take Back Iraq As U.S. Allies Switch Sides in Syria

"A U.S. military aircraft has crashed in western Iraq with U.S. service members aboard. Rescue teams are responding to the scene of the downed aircraft at this time. Further details will be released when available. An investigation will be initiated to determine the cause of the incident," the U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria told Newsweek in a statement.

GettyImages-643815120 U.S. troops walk as a U.S. Army C-47 Chinook helicopter flies over the village of Oreij, south of Mosul, on February 22, 2017. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

In a follow-up statement sent to Newsweek early Friday, the coalition confirmed the deaths of those onboard the aircraft and said it did not appear to be the result of enemy fire. The incident was still under investigation, however.

"All personnel aboard were killed in the crash," Brigadier General Jonathan P. Braga, director of operations for the coalition said in the statement. "This tragedy reminds us of the risks our men and women face every day in service of our nations. We are thinking of the loved ones of these service members today."

"We are grateful to the Iraqi Security Forces for their immediate assistance in response to this tragic incident," Braga added. "Iraqi Security Forces continue to demonstrate their professionalism, capabilities and flexibility as we continue the fight towards a lasting defeat of Daesh [Arabic-language acronym for ISIS]

The U.S. has been active in Iraq since invading the country in 2003 to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Soon after, a number of Sunni Muslim jihadi groups engaged in a violent insurgency, forming into Al-Qaeda in Iraq, then the Islamic State of Iraq, and finally, the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), which spread into neighboring Syria in 2013.

The U.S. has been bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria since 2014. While the militants have largely been defeated by an alliance of a U.S-led coalition, Iraqi troops, Kurdish forces and an Iran-backed collective of militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, pockets of jihadi activity remain—with the border region being one of the last jihadi strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

The border town of Al-Qaim was retaken from ISIS in November by the Iraqi army and Popular Mobilization Forces, who then assisted the Syrian military and its allies, including other Iran-backed militias, retake the nearby Syrian town of Al-Bukamal. On the Syrian side of the border, both the Russia-backed Syrian military and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces were active.

RTX486S7 A map shows areas of Iraq and Syria that remain under ISIS control as of December 18, 2017. The Iraqi and Syrian armies, allied Iran-backed militias, Kurdish forces, Russia and the U.S. have all largely defeated ISIS in the region. Al-Qaim is located southeast of Deir Ezzor on the Iraqi side of the border. Institute for the Study of War/Reuters

While Kurdish forces of the Syrian Democratic Forces have struck a deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to defend against a Turkish invasion, the mostly Arab faction of the U.S.-backed militia has stayed behind. Pro-Syrian government forces have clashed with Syrian Democratic Forces in the region, with U.S.-led coalition airstrikes killing up to 100 pro-Syrian government fighters, including Russians. Both sides blamed the other for the attacks.

The Popular Mobilization Forces, which was made an official part of the Iraqi military last week, has also threatened to expel the U.S. by force if it did not withdraw troops.

Since 2003, 4,535 members of the U.S. military have been killed and another 32,310 wounded in Iraq, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

This story has been updated with a statements from the U.S.-led coalition as well as more background information to provide context to a breaking news story.

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