AFP: Fourteen Iranian military personnel were killed in a helicopter crash last week during an operation against rebels close to the Turkish border, the Revolutionary Guards confirmed on Monday.
TEHRAN, Feb 26, 2007 (AFP) – Fourteen Iranian military personnel were killed in a helicopter crash last week during an operation against rebels close to the Turkish border, the Revolutionary Guards confirmed on Monday.
A statement carried by the ISNA agency said that two commanders of the Guards’ ground force and 12 other military personnel were killed in Friday’s accident. Kurdish rebels had claimed they shot down the aircraft.
“Commanders Ghahari Said and Dorosti of the Guards’ Hamzeh Army 3, along with 12 other members of the Islamic republic’s army and the Guards, were martyred in the helicopter accident,” the army statement said.
It said the operation against the “mercenary elements opposing the Islamic republic was carried out in the valleys close to the town of Khoy” 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Turkish border.
Iranian state media had earlier reported that the crash was “an accident due to bad weather.” The Revolutionary Guards had said on Saturday they killed 17 rebels in the operation after besieging them.
Pejak, a Kurdish rebel group fighting in Iran, claimed on Sunday that it had shot down an Iranian helicopter.
The group, linked to Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), also claimed to have fought an hour-long battle with Iranian troops and to have killed 20 soldiers, including senior officers.
Pejak’s statement, which was distributed to reporters in two cities in northern Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region, said the group had captured a survivor from the helicopter crash and killed the chief of the Iranian army’s 3rd Corps.
Iran’s north-western West Azerbaijan province, which borders Turkey and Iraq, is the scene of regular armed clashes between Iranian border guards and Kurdish militant parties, Pejak in particular.