Iraq: Seven people killed in helicopter crash

File – A Turkish F-16 fighter jet during take-off maneuver. – MINISTERIO DE DEFENSA DE TURQUÍA

At least seven people have been killed when the helicopter they were flying in crashed in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan on Wednesday, Iraqi media reported.

A security source consulted by the Shafaq news portal said it was a Turkish Armed Forces helicopter, which was lost due to bad weather and fell to the ground in an oil field. However, the Turkish Ministry of Defense has denied that the aircraft belonged to its Army and has assured that no Turkish helicopter was flying over that area, as reported by TRT Haber TV channel.

For its part, the General Anti-Terrorist Directorate of the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan said in a statement that the occupants of the helicopter were members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The agency indicated on its official account on the social network Facebook that the aircraft crashed at around 8.40 p.m. (local time) near the town of Berkiat, before adding that »all its occupants were killed».

»The Kurdistan Regional Government has contacted the Iraqi government, the coalition (led by the United States) and the Turkish government about the incident, but they said that the helicopter does not belong to them,» he specified.

Thus, he pointed out that »the security forces have launched an investigation and the preliminary results point to the fact that the helicopter was a Eurocopter AS350 and that many of the passengers were PKK militiamen», without the group having made any statement on the matter.

Turkish incursions into Iraqi territory are frequent and are part of the operations of its soldiers against the PKK, both in Turkey and in northern Iraq — where the formation has numerous bases — since the cease-fire between the government and the armed group was broken in July 2015. Ankara also has military bases in this area of Iraq.