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Friday, March 16, 2012
Okan Melikoğlu, First Lieutenant, Turkish Land Forces
I. Name: Okan Melikoğlu II. Rank: First Lieutenant III. Country Served: Republic of Turkey IV. Service: Turkish Land Forces V. Conflict: War in Afghanistan (Global War on Terrorism) VI. Related News Items:
Bloody Week in Afghanistan Continues; 16 Die in Helicopter Crash
Karzai, Afghans Want to Punish Solider who Allegedly Murdered 16 Civillians
- Common Dreams staff
A violent and chaotic week in Afghanistan continued today as a Turkish military helicopter, on a NATO mission, crashed into a house, leaving 4 Afghan civilians and 12 Turkish soldiers dead. Military officials are investigating the cause of the crash. Turkey soldiers are serving in a "non-combat" role in Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press. "It is a grave accident. Our grief is deep," said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
A Turkish military helicopter crashed into a house in Afghanistan today. Four Afghan civilians were killed, in addition to 12 Turkish soldiers. (Photo: AP)The accident is just the latest disaster to hit the war-torn country in recent days. Earlier this week a US soldier allegedly massacred civilians, including nine children in Kandahar province on Sunday, straining US relations with the Afghan government and the people. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked US military forces to withdraw from villages and the Taliban has dropped out of peace talks with NATO. Karzai and many Afghan civillians want the soldier who is alleged to have commited the murders to be tried in Afghanistan, but he has since been flown to the United States."This has been going on for too long. You have heard me before. It is by all means the end of the rope here," Karzai told reporters.
A series of blunders by the United States, including the killings in Kandahar province on Sunday and the inadvertent burning of copies of the Koran at a NATO base last month, has further strained already tense relations between the countries.
"This has been going on for too long. You have heard me before. It is by all means the end of the rope here," Karzai told reporters at the heavily fortified presidential palace.
Flanked by senior officials, a tired and sometimes angry Karzai listened to village elders and the families of victims of the massacre, and dressed somberly in black for the start of an expected two days of talks to discuss the killings.
Some at the meeting shouted, some demanded answers, but all said they wanted any soldiers involved punished.
"I don't want any compensation. I don't want money, I don't want a trip to Mecca, I don't want a house. I want nothing. But what I absolutely want is the punishment of the Americans. This is my demand, my demand, my demand and my demand," said one villager, whose brother was killed in the nighttime slaughter.
Furious Afghans and lawmakers have demanded that the soldier responsible be tried in Afghanistan, but despite those calls, the U.S. staff sergeant was flown out on Wednesday.
"The army chief has just reported that the Afghan investigation team did not receive the cooperation that they expected from the United States. Therefore these are all questions that we'll be raising, and raising very loudly, and raising very clearly," Karzai said.
Karzai appeared to back the belief of the villagers, and many other Afghans including the country's parliament, that one gunman acting alone could not have killed so many people, and in different locations some distance apart.
"They believe it's not possible for one person to do that. In (one) family, in four rooms people were killed, women and children were killed, and they were all brought together in one room and then put on fire. That one man cannot do," Karzai said.
The US military did not cooperate with the Afghan team dispatched to investigate the massacre of 16 civilians by a rogue American army sergeant in Kandahar province, the Afghan president has said.
The accusations came as Hamid Karzai met in his palace on Friday with distraught families of victims of last week’s incident as well as tribal elders.
"The Afghan government didn't receive cooperation from the USA regarding the surrender of the US soldiers to the Afghan government," Karzai said.
Lieutenant General Sher Mohammed Karimi, chief of the Afghan army who led the investigation into the massacre, told the gathering that his delegation did not receive the full cooperation they expected.
He said that despite repeated requests from high-level Afghan officials, including the minister of defence, to meet with the accused soldier, they were not granted access by US generals.
Karimi said he wanted to ask the soldier whether he acted alone, or was part of a team, as has repeatedly been claimed by tribal elders.
The soldier was flown to Kuwait on Wednesday, and is expected to arrive in a military prison in the US as early as Friday, according to reports.
John Henry Browne, the soldier's attorney, told US media the accused would be held at a maximum security detention facility at a US military base in Kansas.
A Turkish military helicopter crashed into a house near the Afghan capital Friday, killing 12 Turkish soldiers on board and four Afghan civilians on the ground, officials said.
It was by far the deadliest incident involving Turkish soldiers in Afghanistan, where they have a noncombat role.
The helicopter, a Sikorsky, was on a mission for U.S.-led NATO forces when it went down near Kabul, the Turkish military said in a statement.
"Twelve of our military personnel on board were martyred," it said.
There was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash, NATO said.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the helicopter was one of two that took off on Friday.
"Unfortunately, the one in front came down for an unknown reason," he said.
He said there were officers and noncommissioned officers on board.
From The Wall Street Journal:
MILITARY FUNERAL: Mourners attended the funeral of U.S. ArmyNational Guard Maj. Robert Marchanti II at Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday. Maj. Marchanti, of Maryland, was fatally shot in an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, in February that the Taliban said was retaliation for the burning of Qurans at a U.S. base. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
SOMBER CEREMONY: A man mourned in front of a portrait during a ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday. A Turkish helicopter crashed into a house on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, killing 12 Turkish soldiers and Afghan civilians. (Adem Altan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)
From World Bulletin:
11:47, 20 March 2012 Tuesday
Turkey pays final respects to soldiers killed in Afghan crash - UPDATED
Funeral services was held for 12 Turkish soldiers who were killed in a helicopter crash after an official ceremony was held in Ankara with the attendance of top state officials.
Funeral services were held on Tuesday for 12 Turkish soldiers who were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan last week after an official ceremony was held in Ankara with the attendance of top state officials.
The official commemorative ceremony for the soldiers began early on Tuesday at the 4th Army Corps Command in Ankara.
President Abdullah Gül; Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who cancelled his trip to Germany after receiving news of the crash; Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu; main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu; and Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel as well as top military officers attended the ceremony. The families of the soldiers were also present at the ceremony.
The plane carrying the bodies of the soldiers, among whom were nine officers, two non-commissioned officers and one specialized sergeant, landed at Ankara's Etimesgut Military Airport around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday. The bodies were then taken to the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK). Five of the soldiers were buried at the Cebeci Military Cemetery in Ankara after a funeral service at Ankara's Kocatepe Mosque.
President Gül and other top state officials were present at the funeral prayer, led by Religious Affairs Directorate President Mehmet Görmez, for the five soldiers.
High-level state officials conveyed their condolences to the families of the soldiers during the funeral and shared in their grief. The bodies of the other seven soldiers were sent to their hometowns for burial from the Etimesgut Military Airport.
Tears, prayers and grief dominated both ceremonies on Tuesday morning and the funeral services at Kocatepe Mosque. Many among the large crowd of people who attended the official state ceremony at the 4th Army Corps Command could not hold back tears as the soldiers' children ran to the coffins to bid their fathers farewell.
A Turkish military helicopter crashed into a home near the Afghan capital on Friday, killing 12 Turkish soldiers on board and four Afghan civilians on the ground. It was by far the deadliest incident involving Turkish soldiers in Afghanistan, where they play a noncombatant role.
The helicopter, a Sikorsky, was on a mission for US-led NATO forces when it went down near Kabul, the Turkish military said in a statement. Iran, the US and Afghanistan have extended their condolences to Turkey over the incident.
The names of the soldiers killed in the helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Friday are as follows: Maj. Mithat Çolak, Maj. Şükrü Bağdatlı, Maj. Serkan Doğan, Maj. İsmail Cem Yakınlar, Cpt. Adil Erdoğan, Commanding Sgt. Maj. Salih Helvacı, Commanding Sgt. Maj. Mehmet Akbaş, Spc. Sgt. Önay Vurucu, Cpt. İlker Aydın, 1st Lt. Murat Yıldız, 1st Lt. Tahsin Barutçu and 1st Lt. Okan Melikoğlu.
Turkish opposition leaders have begun questioning Turkey's presence in Afghanistan following Friday's incident.
Turkey, the Muslim nation with the highest number of troops and civilian workers in NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), has some 1,650 troops in the country. It ranks eighth in providing the most troops to ISAF. ISAF was established by the United Nations Security Council on Dec. 20, 2001.