Seventeen Turkish soldiers were killed on Saturday when their helicopter crashed in southeastern Turkey due to bad weather conditions, the area's governor has said.

The Sikorsky helicopter crashed in heavy fog on Herekol mountain, in the Pervari area of Siirt province, according to Governor Ahmed Aydin.

The victims were members of special police forces.

"The weather during the transportation was bad. There was extreme rain. The helicopter crashed into rocks because of the fog," Aydin said. "The incident was the result of a crash, and any kind of attack is out of the question."

The group was traveling to southeastern Turkey for military operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a militant group which has battled the Turkish government for decades, demanding more rights for Kurds, including autonomy in the mostly Kurdish southeast of the country.

On Friday, the office for the governor of the nearby province of Hakkari said as many as 42 Kurdish rebels had been killed in the past three days in operations that were backed by airpower. It made no mention of any casualties among troops.

Several days ago, Turkish media reported that soldiers were airlifted into northern Iraq for a brief operation against suspected rebels, who have bases there.

There were no reports of casualties on that mission.

Turkey periodically carries out artillery and air strikes on PKK positions in northern Iraq, but reports of cross-border incursions are rare.

Source: Reuters