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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 13, 1994


Report on Shootdown of U.S. Helicopters over Iraq

I have been briefed on the report prepared by Major General Andrus of the 3rd Air Force on the accidental downing on April 14 of two U.S. Army helicopters that were flying over Iraq as part of Operation Provide Comfort. The men and women on these helicopters were serving their countries in a humanitarian effort to help ensure the safety and welfare of the Iraqi-Kurdish people in the aftermath of the Gulf War.

I commend Secretary Perry, General Shalikashvili and General Andrus for producing a thorough analysis of what went wrong on that terrible day and for ordering a sensible program of corrective actions to help prevent such tragedies in the future. I intend to ensure that these actions are implemented, and I look forward to receiving progress reports from Secretary Perry and General Shalikashvili on this process.

In considering this report, we necessarily are drawn to the errors of commission and omission that produced the tragedy. At the same time, we must keep in mind that Operation Provide Comfort has been and continues to be a very successful coalition effort that has effectively deterred Iraq from disrupting peace and order in the UN-established security zone. Because of Operation Provide Comfort, human rights abuses against the Kurdish population of northern Iraq have been curtailed.

The 26 brave Americans, allied and Iraqi-Kurdish personnel who died in the crashes served with courage and professionalism, and they lost their lives trying to save the lives of others. The important work they were doing must, and will, continue.

To the families and loved ones of those who were killed, I offer my sincere condolences and, on behalf of the United States of America, the gratitude of our entire nation.

In remarks at the Memorial Service for the victims, I said that it is our duty to find the answers to this tragedy that these families rightfully seek. The report Secretary Perry is releasing today is an important step toward fulfilling that pledge.

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