February 24, 2008 / 6:32 AM / 12 years ago

Kurdish rebels say Turkish helicopter shot down

ZAKHU, Iraq (Reuters) - Kurdish PKK guerrillas said on Sunday they had shot down a Turkish Cobra attack helicopter during clashes with Turkish forces in northern Iraq.

“At 6 p.m. (10 a.m. EST) yesterday, our fighters shot down a Cobra helicopter,” Ahmed Danees, head of foreign relations for the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), told Reuters by telephone.

He gave no details of casualties but said more information would be released later. The incident had occurred during fighting in the remote Chamsku area close to the border, Danees said.

“The clashes are still ongoing. Yesterday evening there was artillery shelling and air strikes on the PKK inside Iraq,” he added.

On Saturday, Danees said PKK fighters had killed 22 Turkish soldiers since Turkey began a cross-border offensive into Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdistan region on Thursday.

He said PKK fighters had recovered the bodies of 15 of those killed and the guerrillas would also release their names soon.

Turkey’s military General Staff has said in a statement on its Web site that only seven Turkish troops had been killed, while its forces had killed 79 PKK rebels.

Verifying information about casualties is difficult as the fighting is taking place in an inaccessible mountain region.

Reporting by Shamal Aqrawi; Writing by Michael Holden; Editing by Michael Winfrey

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