Six killed in Iran helicopter crash
TEHRAN: Six members of the Iranian security forces were killed and five injured in a helicopter crash during an operation near the Iraqi border, the official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.
“The armed forces’ helicopter crashed due to a technical problem and bad weather conditions during a border manoeuvre on Friday near Piranshahr,” a town around 10 kilometres from the Iraqi border, IRNA said. The agency did not identify the forces involved or give further details on the manoeuvres.
However the semi-official Mehr news agency reported that the victims were members of the elite Revolutionary Guards who were fighting the Kurdish rebel group Pejak near Piranshahr, which lies in West Azarbaijan province. An official from the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) told an AFP correspondent in neighbouring Iraq that the chopper had been shot down by an allied Kurdish Iranian group he described as the Hayat al-Hur (Free Life).
Speaking in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah on condition of anonymity, he also claimed the rebels had killed 15 members of the Iranian security forces in ground clashes. The claims could not be independently verified.
Iran’s northwestern West Azerbaijan province, which borders Turkey and Iraq, is the scene of regular deadly clashes between Iranian security forces and Pejak and other militant Kurdish separatists linked to Turkey’s outlawed PKK.
In February, 14 Iranian military personnel, including two Revolutionary Guards commanders, were killed in a helicopter crash during an operation against rebels close to the Turkish border. The Iranian authorities said the crash was the result of bad weather but PKK-linked rebels claimed the helicopter had been shot down Iran is bound by treaty with Turkey to fight the PKK. In return, Turkey has pledged to fight Iran’s main armed opposition group, the Iraq-based People’s Mujahedeen. afp