World Bulletin / News Desk
Two Iraqi military pilots were killed Thursday when their helicopter was shot down over eastern Mosul, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said in a statement.
"The [army-affiliated] Joint Operations Command is mourning two of its air force pilots,” the statement read.
It added that the pair had been killed while providing air support to Iraqi federal police units fighting ISIL militants in western Mosul.
The ill-fated helicopter, the statement continued, "took hostile fire before going down in the battlefield”.
Army Major Ahmed Humaid told Anadolu Agency that the stricken aircraft had crashed in eastern Mosul’s Al-Mohandessin district, which Iraqi forces wrested from ISIL in January.
The helicopter had been striking ISIL targets in western Mosul when it was struck by enemy fire, he added, going on to note that Iraqi security forces had since cordoned off the crash site.
In February, Iraqi ground forces -- backed by U.S.-led coalition air power -- began fresh operations aimed at ousting ISIL militants from western Mosul, the terrorist group’s last bastion in northern Iraq.
The offensive is part of a wider campaign launched last October to retake the entire city, which ISIL overran in mid-2014.