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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Black Hawks Downed, 17 Killed

MOSUL, Iraq -- Two Black Hawk helicopters collided and crashed, killing 17 American soldiers in the U.S. military's worst single loss of life since the Iraq war began. Five soldiers were injured and one was missing, the military said Saturday.

The U.S. military said the cause of the crash was under investigation, but witnesses said that one of the helicopters was hit by ground fire before it crashed into the other helicopter and a U.S. soldier said he heard reports that one of the choppers was hit by a rocket.

As the U.S. death toll in Iraq passed the 400 mark, the Iraqi Governing Council endorsed a U.S. plan Saturday that would create a provisional government by June. The transfer of power would provide Washington with an "exit strategy" in the face of escalating guerrilla warfare.

The two Black Hawks, which belonged to the 101st Airborne Division, went down in residential neighborhoods of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city. A statement by the U.S. command said one helicopter was carrying a quick reaction force and the other ferrying soldiers on a transport mission in northern Iraq. The statement did not give the cause of the crash.

 Italians heaped flowers and tributes at the tomb of the unknown soldier on Sunday where the bodies of 19 troops killed in Italy's worst military slaughter since World War II will lay in state before a national funeral.

Children with drawings, men and women with flags and bouquets came in a steady stream to the black iron gates at the the white marble monument that towers over central Rome.

A small girl left a drawing of the suicide truck bomb that blasted through Italy's Carabinieri military police base in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on Wednesday. On it she wrote: "We will see you in paradise."

The bodies will be moved to the monument on Monday so thousands can pay their respects. (AP, Reuters)