Mystery continues to surround helicopter crash in KRI

Mystery continues to surround helicopter crash in KRI
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While a PKK spokesperson has said that the group does not possess helicopters and they are investigating the incident, local sources have suggested that the helicopter may belong to PUK.

Two days after an unidentified helicopter crashed in the province of Duhok in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), it still remains unknown what caused the crash, to whom the helicopter belongs and who the fatalities were.

Officials of KRI's counter terrorism agency claimed on Thursday that the fatalities were fighters affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

“Preliminary investigations revealed that the helicopter was of type Eurocopter AS350 and that several of the passengers that were killed were PKK fighters,” the source said.

A PKK spokesperson told Associated Press however that the group does not possess helicopters and they were also investigating the incident.

Zagros Hiwa cast doubt on the presence of PKK fighters onboard the flight, saying it may be a "coalition helicopter" carrying fighters affiliated with the People's Protection Units, or YPG, a Kurdish militia that is part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is allied with the US led coalition forces in Northern Syria.

A local intelligence source speaking to Al-Monitor said that the helicopter was carrying six YPG personnel and two pilots, who all perished. The source maintained that the aircraft was flying from Hasakah in Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria to Sulaymaniyah in Iraq, under the control of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). "They were flying very very low to avoid Turkish radars. Weather conditions have been very poor for the past three days with lots of rain. That is probably why, due to poor visibility, the accident occurred," the source said.

At least three other sources claimed that the helicopter belonged to the PUK, Al-Monitor added.

PUK and SDF officials did not respond to Al-Monitor’s request for comment.

A spokesman for the US led coalition declined to comment, saying the crash fell outside the scope of the coalition's operations.

Turkish defense ministry officials earlier said that initial reports that the helicopter had been Turkish were "completely untrue" and that there was no helicopter flight belonging to the Turkish military in the region.

At least five people were reportedly killed by the helicopter crash.