Report: 250 militants killed near Najaf

US-backed Iraqi forces killed about 250 militants in a daylong battle near Najaf aimed at preventing attacks on religious pilgrims during major Shiite rituals, Iraqi authorities said. Iraqi officials said a US helicopter crashed during the battle, which began early Sunday when Iraqi forces attacked militants about 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of Najaf. The US military declined to comment on the helicopter report.