UPDATES WITH CONDOLENCE FROM QATARI EMIR, NORTHERN CYPRUS PREMIER, EDITS THOROUGHOUT
By Havva Kara Aydin, Muhammet Tarhan, Muhammet Ikbal Arslan, Jeyhun Aliyev, Serdar Bitmez, Muhammed Semiz, and Merve Berker
ANKARA (AA) - Condolences poured in from around the world after 11 Turkish soldiers, including a senior officer, were martyred in a helicopter crash in eastern Turkey on Thursday.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg phoned Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to convey his condolences over the deaths of the soldiers, said a diplomatic source.
Stoltenberg stressed that NATO is in solidarity with Turkey.
Ann Linde, the Swedish foreign minister and chairperson-in-office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, spoke over the phone with Cavusoglu and extended her condolences.
Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Taher Siala also offered his condolences to Cavusoglu in a phone talk.
On Twitter, the US Embassy in Ankara said: “Our thoughts are with the families of all those affected, and we wish a rapid recovery to the injured.”
“I share the pain of our ally Turkey, wishing condolences to the families of those killed and Turkey,” Dominick Chilcott, Britain’s ambassador to Turkey, said on Twitter.
Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, the head of the EU Delegation to Turkey, said on Twitter that they share the deep sorrow of Turkey over the loss of lives.
It added: “As the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey, we express our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims, and to Turkey. We wish for the speedy recovery of those injured.”
“Our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and the Turkish nation on the tragic helicopter crash in Tatvan, Bitlis…,” the Pakistani Embassy in Ankara said on Twitter.
Iran’s Ambassador to Turkey Mohammad Farazmand extended his condolences to the government of Turkey, Turkish people and grieving families over a painful incident.
He also wished a speedy recovery for the injured soldiers.
- ‘Deeply saddening event’
Conveying his condolences, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Turkey Andrii Sybiha said on Twitter: “I wish mercy from Allah to the Turkish soldiers who were martyred as a result of the crash of the military helicopter departing from Bingol, and urgent healing to those who were injured.”
Italy’s Embassy in Ankara said on Twitter: “We learned with pain the news of the tragic plane crash .... In this sad moment, we stand by the Turkish people and wish our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.”
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani offered his condolences to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a telegram, according to a statement by the Amiri Diwan of the State of Qatar.
Al Thani also wished a rapid recovery to the injured soldiers.
Qatar’s Embassy in Ankara in a Twitter post offered “sincere condolences” to the government and “brotherly” people of Turkey.
The embassies of Kosovo, Germany, Canada, and Pakistan also shared condolence posts on their social media accounts.
“My condolences to the families of the Turkish soldiers killed in the tragic helicopter crash in #Bitlis, and speedy recovery for the wounded,” Irit Lillian, a senior Israeli diplomat in Ankara, said on Twitter.
Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili said on Twitter: “@RTErdogan, my sincere condolences to you and to the people of Turkey over the crash of a military helicopter that has cost too many lives. This is a deeply saddening event and we stand with the families of those who lost their lives.”
Georgia’s Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani said: “I express my deepest condolences to our friendly Turkey over the crash of the helicopter in the town of Tatvan. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy and with all those who have lost their loved ones.”
He also wished a quick recovery to the wounded soldiers.
Meanwhile, Somalia’s Justice Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur also took to Twitter to extend his condolences.
“I sadly learned that a helicopter belonging to the friendly and brotherly Turkish army had crashed. The pain of the Turkish brothers is our pain too. I wish mercy from Allah to the martyrs who lost their lives,” he said.
- ‘Your grief is our grief’
Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar phoned Erdogan and Cavusoglu to offer his condolences over the crash, the presidency of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said in a statement.
Separately, Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersan Saner also called Vice President Fuat Oktay and offered his condolences over the incident. Expressing deep sorrow of the TRNC people for the martyred soldiers, Saner wished Allah’s mercy for all the martyrs and condolences to their families.
Albania’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Olta Xhacka, Turkish Cypriot Tourism and Environment Minister Fikri Ataoglu and Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertugruloglu also conveyed their condolences to Cavusoglu over the incident.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev extended his condolences to the Turkish nation.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov also expressed sorrow over the crash and conveyed his condolences to the families and loved ones of the martyrs as well as the people of Turkey and wished a speedy recovery for the injured.
Separately, Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov has sent letters of condolences to the Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar and Turkey's Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler, noting that he was “deeply shocked by the news about the death of high-ranking servicemen.”
“Your grief is our grief too. I pray to Almighty Allah for the repose of the souls of the Shehids [martyrs], share the sorrow and grief of their relatives, and express my deep condolences to their families. I wish a speedy recovery to the wounded. May Allah rest the souls of the Shehids in peace,” said a statement.
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also sent a condolence message to Erdogan.
“Sharing your pain in this difficult moment, I would like to express my condolences on behalf of the people of Kazakhstan and myself to you and brotherly Turkish people,” he said.
- More condolences
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky took to Twitter to extend his condolences to the Turkish leader over the incident.
“Deepest condolences to the people of Turkey for the loss of military personnel as a result of a helicopter crash in Bitlis province. We wish the relatives of those who lost their loved ones strength, and rapid recovery to the wounded @RTErdogan,” he said.
Besides Zelensky, other Ukrainian top officials conveyed their condolences to their Turkish counterparts and the Turkish nation.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri in a Twitter post in Turkish language extended his condolences to families of the martyrs and the Turkish government, and wished quick recovery for the wounded.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza expressed his country’s solidarity with the people and government of Turkey, sharing a photo of a Turkish flag on Twitter.
Baghdad Amreyev, secretary-general of the Turkic Council, said that with great sorrow they received news of the crash.
“On behalf of the Turkic Council and myself, I wish Allah’s mercy upon the soldiers who lost their lives in this tragic accident, condolences to their families and brotherly Turkish nation, and wish a recovery to the wounded,” Amreyev added.
At least 11 Turkish soldiers, including a corps commander, were martyred and two others injured as a military helicopter crashed in the eastern Bitlis province on Thursday.
Contact with the Cougar military helicopter, which took off from Bingol for Tatvan district in Bitlis at 1.55 p.m. local time (1055GMT), was lost at 2.25 p.m. (1125GMT).
On Friday, a state funeral service for the martyrs was held in the capital Ankara. The Turkish president and other senior officials attended the service.
Two other soldiers wounded in the helicopter crash are in good condition, according to the country’s defense minister.