The global coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) on Saturday extended condolences to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after nine of its fighters died in a helicopter crash this week.
“Heartfelt condolences to our #SDF #PartnerForce 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,” read a message shared on the official Twitter account of the Combined Special Operations Joint Task Force.
The Kurdish-led SDF announced on Friday that two of its helicopters had crashed due to bad weather conditions in Iraqi Kurdistan’s northern city of Duhok.
The media centre of the SDF said that the helicopters had been carrying its anti-terrorism units to Sulaymaniyah (Silêmanî) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to share security and military information.
“Nine fighters of our Counter-Terrorism Units (YAT), including their leader, Shervan Kobani, lost their lives while heading to the KRI,” wrote Mazloum Abdi, the SDF’s commander in chief on Twitter.
Bafel Talabani, the leader of the Sulaymaniyah-based Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) also shared his condolences.
“The martyrdom of Commander (Sharvan Kobane), the commander of the anti-terrorist forces of the west and eight other friends, made us worried from the heart,” he wrote on Facebook.
Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Region Security Council issued a statement on Sunday, confirming only one helicopter crash in Duhok, which it said had claimed the lives of seven people on board.
The helicopter was flying between Sulaymaniyah and Kurdish-controlled Rojava in northeast Syria, the Council said, adding that the security institutions of the autonomous administration in Iraqi Kurdistan had not been formally notified of the flights.
The Council implicitly accused the PUK of “secretly and informally” facilitating the relationship between the SDF and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraq.
The Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) led by President Nechirvan Barzani has close ties with Turkey, especially in relation to Turkey’s cross-border operations into South Kurdistan (northern Iraq) against PKK bases in the neighbouring country.