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Kurd rebels say they shot down helicopter
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10:58, February 25, 2008

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Kurdish PKK rebels said yesterday they had shot down a Turkish attack helicopter in north Iraq, where they are battling Turkish troops in a conflict Baghdad and Washington fear could further destabilize Iraq.

Ankara launched the major cross-border land offensive on Thursday after months of aerial bombardment of PKK targets in the remote, mountainous region. It accuses the rebels of using northern Iraq as a base to stage deadly attacks inside Turkey.

"At 6 pm yesterday, our fighters shot down a Cobra helicopter," Ahmed Danees, head of foreign relations for the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), said in Baghdad by telephone.

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

Turkey's General Staff made no comment on the PKK claim.

Five Turkish soldiers and 16 rebels were killed in yesterday's clashes, the source said. If confirmed, the figures would bring the death toll among the troops to 12 and among the rebels to 95, according to Turkish estimates.

A military source said two brigades made up of 8,000 troops are taking part in the offensive. Turkish media have put the troop number at 10,000, but a senior officer with US-led coalition forces in Baghdad said it was below 1,000.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

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