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Helicopter may have been shot down: Turkish military

19 May 2016 13:23



The Turkish military says one of its helicopters that crashed last week may have been shot down with a ground-to-air projectile, probably even a missile.

“As the helicopters carried out their mission, the conclusion has been reached that one helicopter may have been struck and downed with an air defense weapon that could have been a missile, possibly fired from the ground,” the military said in a statement on Thursday.

The crash, which occurred on Friday, killed eight Turkish soldiers, including the two pilots of the helicopter.

The chopper had been sent to the largely-Kurdish Hakkari Province near the Iraqi border to conduct military operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants.

The military had earlier issued a statement citing technical defects as the cause of the crash.

An investigation into the incident is continuing, the Turkish military added.

Ankara has been engaged in a large-scale campaign against the PKK in its southern border region in the past few months. The Turkish military has also been pounding the group’s positions in northern Iraq.

A man walks along a road damaged in the fighting between government troops and PKK militants in Silopi, Sirnak Province, southeastern Turkey, January 19, 2016. (AFP)

The operations began in the wake of a deadly July 2015 bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc. More than 30 people died in the attack, which the Turkish government blamed on the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

After the bombing, the PKK militants, who accuse the government in Ankara of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces, prompting the Turkish military operations.

A shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 was declared null and void by the militants following the Turkish strikes against the group.

The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey since 1984. The conflict has left more than 40,000 people dead.

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