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Israeli army official backs up Williams account

    Williams is backing out of scheduled appearance on David Letterman’s “Late Show” on Thursday.That news from NBC came Sunday

JERUSALEM >> An Israeli army official who traveled with Brian Williams during the military campaign against Hezbollah in 2006 said the account the NBC anchor later offered about his trip was “generally reasonable.”

Williams initially reported on MSNBC that he had seen a trail of smoke and dust where rockets had landed in the Israeli countryside, and described seeing rockets being launched six miles from his location. In later accounts, however, Williams talked of Katyusha rockets passing just underneath his helicopter.

Williams, who has apologized for falsely saying he’d been on a helicopter hit be an enemy grenade during the Iraq War, also has been questioned about his description of seeing Hezbollah rocket fire while on an Israeli aircraft.

“The pilot called our attention several times to Katyusha rockets which had just landed beneath us,” Jacob Dallal, who was acting head of foreign media in the Israeli army in 2006 and flew with Williams, told The Associated Press Tuesday. “I recall vividly him showing us the plumes of dust that resulted from the impact of the rockets. There were several instances of that happening.”

“It’s fair to assume the trajectory was underneath us,” Dallal said. “What was very visible was the point of impact.”

Dallal said he couldn’t speak to Williams’ claim of witnessing a rocket launch from a distance.

“With a helicopter in movement, each passenger had a different vantage point,” he said.

Williams announced Saturday he was stepping away from “NBC Nightly News” for a few days. NBC News, which launched an internal probe, hasn’t given a timetable for how long its investigation into Williams’ statements, coordinated by the division’s investigative editor Richard Esposito, will take or if its report will be made public.

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