Gov’t stands firm on Kabul duty after crash

Gov’t stands firm on Kabul duty after crash

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Gov’t stands firm on Kabul duty after crash

Turkish soldiers remove parts of a helicopter from the site of the crash in Kabul. AFP photo

The loss of 12 soldiers in a helicopter crash in Kabul last week will not deter Turkey from its commitment to help stabilize Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said yesterday.

“The mission we are carrying out in Afghanistan is for the Afghan people who are our historical brothers and will forever be so. We have never left Afghanistan to its fate and we will never do so in the future,” Davutoğlu said at a ceremony at Ankara’s Cebeci cemetery to commemorate foreign ministry personnel killed in the line of duty.

Price to pay

Dismissing opposition calls for a review of Turkey’s involvement in Afghanistan, a senior Justice and Development Party (AKP) official said the soldiers had died in “an accident that could have happened in Turkey” and not in combat action against the Afghan people. “Our soldiers are there as a guarantee for the Afghan people. They are the best-loved soldiers there,” AKP deputy Hüseyin Çelik said. Turkey is now a global actor with a say in international affairs, and “being in such a position has a price we have to somehow pay,” he added. Autopsies and identification procedures for the dead soldiers were still underway yesterday.

Their bodies were badly disfigured and DNA tests were required to establish their identities, officials said. The funeral ceremony is scheduled for today. The 12 troops were killed March 16 when their helicopter crashed into a residential building in Kabul due to what is believed to have been a technical failure. Turkey is currently in command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul.