Barzani: Helicopter that crashed belongs to PUK
Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) Masrour Barzani claimed on Saturday that one of the helicopters which crashed in Duhok province earlier this week had been purchased by a group within the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a major ally of the US led global coalition combating Islamic State (ISIS) in Northern Syria, announced on Friday that the two helicopters which crashed on Wednesday in Duhok were carrying fighters of SDF's counter terrorism units (YAT).
Speaking at a meeting organized in celebration of Newroz, Barzani told a group of international representatives and diplomats:
"We’ve started an investigation to find out what these helicopters are and why they were there. These were helicopters that initially were purchased by a group in PUK, but why they ended up in SDF we don’t know.”
Bafel Talabani, leader of the PUK that controls Sulaymaniyah province where the helicopters were reportedly headed for, expressed his condolences on Friday over the loss of SDF fighters in the helicopter crash.
Talabani praised the cooperation between PUK's counter terrorism units and the YAT, and posted a photograph with the late YAT commander in a helicopter.
Talabani had met on 20 December with Mazloum Abdi, the top commander of SDF, and said "Our survival depends on our unity."
The Combined Special Ops Joint Task Force-Levant, who carries out the mission Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS, also expressed condolences over the deadly helicopter crash, saying:
"Heartfelt condolences to our SDF Partner Force and the loved ones of the heroes recently killed in a helicopter crash. Their sacrifice and dedication to service for their country won't be forgotten as they continue to maintain safety and stability in Syria."