Turkey is in shock following the crash of a military helicopter in the Sırnak region of southeast Turkey near the Iraqi border.
According to information so far the AS 532 Cougar-type helicopter crashed 3 minutes after its takeoff. The IHA news agency reports that 13 soldiers among them two high ranking officers were killed.
The helicopter returned from Mount Katos, where for the past two months the fighting between the Turkish forces and the PKK members has been continuing.
The helicopter took off at 19:40 local time and a few minutes after all trace was lost from radar.
According to the Sarnak Prefecture the helicopter crash occurred when it got tangled on high voltage cables. However, there is also suspicion of a possible downing.
Turkish Chief of General Staff General Hulusi Akar, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık,Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek and Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also headed to Şırnak to inspect the scene of the crash.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım extended his condolences in a written message.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Energy Minister Berat Albayrak and EU Minister Ömer Çelik also extended their condolences after the crash.
From the opposition, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu extended his condolences on his Twitter account.
The crash marked the third such accident by a Cougar helicopter which has been in use within the turkish land forces for the past 21 years. A total of 15 soldiers had previously been killed in two separate crashes that involved this type of helicopter in 1997 and 2003 respectively./IBNA