Helicopter Crash Leaves 9 Kurdish SDF Fighters Dead

Nine Kurdish SDF fighters from their Anti-Terrorism Units (YAT), including unit commander Servan Kobane, were killed on Wednesday after two helicopters collided due to poor weather conditions in Duhok Province, Iraqi Kurdistan. One helicopter, said to be an AS350 Eurocopter, crashed while the other managed to continue flying.

The Media Center of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) released a statement that read:

“Within the framework and efforts to combat ISIS cells, a group of our SDF Counter-terrorism Units (YAT) headed to the south of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to exchange security and military expertise that will help enhance the units’ combat and security capacity in their ongoing tasks that are combating terrorism and protecting the region of North-East Syria. While the two helicopters carrying our group of fighters were on their way to Sulaymaniyah city on the evening of March 15, 2023, they crashed due to bad weather conditions, leading to the martyrdom of nine of our fighters, including the commander of the YAT forces, Shervan Kobani.”

“The Counter-terrorism Forces (YAT) have sacrificed their best fighters and leaders in the fight against terrorism and led fierce wars in Kobani, Raqqa, and Deir ez-Zor.These units are critical partners of the international coalition in the fight against ISIS and are trained in advanced fighting methods. Moreover, they are actively working to develop their combat capabilities and strengthen the mechanisms of joint action with the involved partners to fight ISIS in the region.”

“While we express our condolences to the families of our martyrs, and our people, we affirm that the sacrifices of the martyrs will remain a beacon for continuing the resistance to protect our people and region. At the same time, we call on the concerned authorities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to cooperate in retrieving the bodies of the martyrs and handing them to the regions of North-East Syria according to the customs and traditions.”

Following the crash, Department of Defense spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder denied that the United States provides helicopter piloting training to SDF partners in Syria.