The Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) said Monday it had shot down a Turkish helicopter in Iraqi Kurdistan in retaliation for the death of one of its commanders last week.
Last Tuesday’s Turkish drone strike had also killed two high-ranking Iraqi officers, sparking renewed tensions with Baghdad.
In a statement Monday, the PKK said its forces in the mountainous Zagros region had “been able to score a direct hit and shoot down a Turkish helicopter.”
“Ten minutes after the shooting-down of the first helicopter, our forces hit another one … forcing it to flee,” the militant group said.
Reports of a Turkish helicopter being downed. Saw some PKK affiliated outlets saying the same but yet to see any evidence. https://t.co/NrJj0Nhdp7
— Jake Hanrahan (@Jake_Hanrahan) August 17, 2020
The mayor of Kani Massi, near the Turkish border, confirmed that a Turkish helicopter had crashed nearby.
Servest Aqrawi told AFP that he was unable to confirm the second hit or the extent of the damage, given the difficulty of accessing the combat zone.
The PKK dedicated Monday’s operation to its “martyr” Akid Karzan and the two Iraqi officers killed “by the Turkish occupation army.”
Turkey, which has had a military presence in Iraq’s autonomous region for a quarter of a century, launched a cross-border ground and air operation against the PKK in the mountainous region in mid-June.
Last Tuesday’s strike had prompted Iraq to summon the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad for the third time in two months.
Then on Friday, Turkish bombardment killed three Kurdish fighters in the region.
Ankara defends its right to bomb the PKK, which it considers to be a “terrorist” organization, and accuses Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan of turning a blind eye to the group’s activities.
Baghdad for its part has sought to rally support to end Ankara’s offensive on its soil.
The US and the EU also consider the PKK a terrorist organization.