Turkish military helicopter may have been shot down
ANKARA - A Turkish military helicopter which crashed last week during an operation against Kurdish rebels in the country's restive southeast may have been shot down, the army said Thursday.
Following the incident, which took place on Friday in the Cukurca district of Hakkari province, the military had initially said the Cobra helicopter crashed due to a technical problem.
The helicopter "could have been hit and brought down by an unspecified anti-aircraft weapon" which could have been a "missile", a military statement said, indicating that the investigation was continuing.
Two military pilots were killed when the chopper went down during fighting in an area close to the Iraqi border.
The helicopter had been dispatched to the scene as troops were engaged in fighting members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) near a military base in the area. Six soldiers were killed in the clashes.
At the time, the pro-PKK Firat news site claimed that the helicopter had been downed by PKK fighters although the army had blamed it on a technical issue.
Following the collapse of a two-year ceasefire in summer 2015, Turkey has been waging an offensive against the PKK, which is regarded as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and its Western allies, in an operation which has seen hundreds of security forces killed.
More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK took up arms in 1984 demanding a homeland for Turkey's biggest minority. Since then, the group has pared back its demands to focus on cultural rights and a measure of autonomy.