Eleven Turkish soldiers, including a high-ranking officer, died Thursday, March 4 when the helicopter carrying them crashed in the south-east of Turkey, announced the Ministry of Defense, citing an "
Nine heroic soldiers were martyred and four were injured in this accident,
" the ministry said in a statement, adding that it had occurred in the Bitlis region.
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The Defense Ministry then said that two other soldiers died of their injuries.
According to a deputy of the ruling AKP party, Tolga Agar, General Osman Erbas, who commands the Eighth Army, is among the dead.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the device, a Cougar manufactured by Airbus, took off from the city of Bingöl to reach Tatvan shortly before 12:00 p.m. French time, then disappeared from radar half an hour later.
Reasons not specified at this time
The authorities managed to locate the scene of the tragedy after deploying drones, a reconnaissance plane and another helicopter.
The reasons for the accident were not immediately specified, but according to images broadcast by Turkish television channels, the region where it occurred was bathed in thick fog.
Our pain is great,
" reacted Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The United States Embassy in Ankara shared its "
Our hearts go out to the families of the victims.
We wish the injured a speedy recovery
, ”she added.
We share Turkey's deep sadness
,” European Union Ambassador to Turkey Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut said in a statement.
According to a Turkish diplomatic source, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg offered his condolences to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, and assured him
of the Alliance's "
" with Turkey.
Turkish defense and interior ministers were due to visit the crash site in the evening, according to Turkish media.
The Turkish army regularly carries out operations in south-eastern Turkey against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a group described as "
" by Ankara and its Western allies.
In 2017, a military helicopter, also of the Cougar type, crashed in the province of Sirnak, bordering Syria and Iraq, killing 13 people.