Baghdad: Islamic State group militants shot down an Iraqi military helicopter on Saturday, officials said, killing the two pilots onboard. The incident raised fresh concerns about the extremists’ ability to attack aircraft amid ongoing US-led coalition airstrikes. The attack happened in the holy city of Samarra, about 95 kilometres north of Baghdad.

A grab taken from a propaganda video released on November 16 by al-Furqan Media. It allegedly shows members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) preparing the simultaneous beheadings of Syrian military personnel. Pic/AFP
A grab taken from a propaganda video released on November 16 by al-Furqan Media. It allegedly shows members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) preparing the simultaneous beheadings of Syrian military personnel. Pic/AFP

A senior defense ministry official and an army official, said on the condition on anonymity that the Sunni militants used a shoulder-fired rocket launcher to shoot down the EC635 helicopter on the outskirts of the city. The EC635, built by Airbus Helicopters, is used for transport, surveillance and combat. Earlier the militants shot down at least two other Iraqi military helicopters near the city of Beiji in October.

Some fear the militants may have captured ground-to-air missiles capable of shooting down airplanes when they overran Iraqi and Syrian army bases this summer. The Islamic State group holds about a third of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in its self-styled caliphate.