A state ceremony was held on Friday in the Turkish capital Ankara for 11 soldiers, who were killed in a helicopter crash a day earlier in Turkey’s Bitlis province.

The state funeral was held on March 5, 2021 in the Turkish capital Ankara.
The state funeral was held on March 5, 2021 in the Turkish capital Ankara. (AA)

Turkey held a state funeral to bid farewell to soldiers killed in a helicopter crash yesterday.

A state ceremony was held in the Turkish capital Ankara on Friday, which was also attended by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other top  officials.

Speaking at the funeral service, Turkish president said the soldiers lost their lives in a tragic accident, calling them "brothers".

"Our commander, Commander Lieutenant General Osman Erbas, was a very humble person. He along with our brothers lost their lives in a tragic accident," Erdogan said at the ceremony.

"As we send these 11 martyrs to their final journey to God, hopefully we will meet with them once again. This is our wish. I offer my condolences to the families, to our army and to our nation," Erdogan said.

On Thursday, the Turkish Defence Ministry said 11 Turkish soldiers were killed and two wounded when their military helicopter crashed in the southeast province of Bitlis.

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'Beloved friend'

The service was also attended by opposition party leaders Devlet Bahceli and Kemal Kilicdaroglu, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, families of the fallen soldiers, and other officials.

Earlier on Friday, a military funeral service was also held in the eastern Elazig province.

Akar told reporters at the funeral that the two wounded soldiers are in good condition.

Lamenting the loss of 8th Corps Commander Lieutenant General Osman Erbas in the tragic accident, Akar called him a "friend" who had "served the armed forces".

"He was a very beloved and respected friend of ours. He was a friend of ours who served our armed forces. Unfortunately, we lost him in yesterday's tragic accident. My condolences to all of us. My condolences to our nation," Akar said.

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State ceremony is held for the 11 soldiers in Turkish army helicopter crash in Bitlis, on March 5, 2021, in the Turkish capital Ankara, Turkey.
State ceremony is held for the 11 soldiers in Turkish army helicopter crash in Bitlis, on March 5, 2021, in the Turkish capital Ankara, Turkey. (AA)

'Tragic accident'

Contact with the Cougar-type military helicopter, which took off from Bingol for Tatvan district of Bitlis at 1055GMT time (1:55 pm local), was lost at 1125GMT (2:25 pm) on Thursday.

"Based on initial information and witnesses' statements, it is considered that the crash occurred due to suddenly changing adverse weather conditions," Akar said after the accident. 

Lieutenant General Osman Erbas, Technical Sergeant Nazmi Yilmaz, Colonel Senturk Aydinyer, Lieutenant Salih Sarioglu, Chief Master Sergeant Mehmet Demir, Master Sergeant Omer Umulu, Lieutenant Captains Tayfun Kures and Gokhan Uysal, Staff Sergeant Sukru Karadirek, and Specialised Sergeants Tolga Demirci and Hakan Gul were killed in the crash.

The bodies of the soldiers will be sent to their hometowns for burial. 

READ MORE: Bad weather may be the cause behind Turkish army helicopter crash

Source: TRTWorld and agencies