U.S. helicopters mistakenly killed at least five allied Kurdish militiamen in the northern city of Mosul early Friday. The US military also reported three more American soldiers killed in combat, pushing the U.S. death toll to 33 in the first eight days of the month.
Officials said the Kurds died about midnight as they guarded a branch of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a political party led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. The U.S. army said the strike was launched after US ground forces spotted armed men in a bunker near a building they thought was being used to make bombs for al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Five men later determined to be Kurdish police officers were killed and nine others were detained, the U.S. military said, according to the AP.
Meanwhile, U.S. and British forces face mounting casualties as they step up their presence to shore up Iraqi forces. Three more US troops died Thursday in fighting in Anbar province, the U.S. military said Friday. More than half the 33 American deaths this month have been in Anbar. In southern Iraq, a roadside bomb killed a British soldier, raising the number of British combat deaths since the war started to 101. Three Britons also were hurt.
Among the Americans killed this month were seven who died when a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed in Anbar on Wednesday. An Al-Qaeda-linked group, the Islamic State in Iraq, posted an Internet video Friday showing the downing of the Marine helicopter. Earlier, the U.S. military has said it did not believe the craft was shot down.
The two-minute video shows a helicopter that appears to be a Sea Knight in flight. An object trailing smoke is seen in the sky nearby, then the craft bursts into flames with a spray of debris.
In violence across Iraq on Friday, at least 36 people were killed or found dead.