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U.S. pilot survives Turkish crash

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (CNN) -- A U.S. Air Force pilot parachuted to safety after his F-16 crashed in Turkey on the way to patrol the northern "no-fly zone" in Iraq.

"The pilot ejected and is uninjured," a statement from U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, said. "The pilot was picked up in a joint Turkish-U.S. effort."

A Turkish military spokesman said the fighter-bomber took off from Incirlik Air Base as a part of a routine patrol of northern Iraq at 9:29 a.m. (0729 GMT).

The F-16 crashed 45 minutes later, according to the U.S. European Command. The fighter was based at Aviano Air Base in Italy.

The jet crashed in a mountainous area near Batman in southeastern Turkey because of "technical reasons," a Turkish military official said.

The statement from U.S. European Command gave no reason for the crash, but said "it was not due to hostile action."

This is the first crash of a F-16 from Incirlik, according to Turkish officials. Incirlik is used by British and U.S. planes as a part of "Operation Northern Watch," the official name for the patrol of the northern no-fly zone.

Western forces set up no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Kurdish dissidents and other minority groups. Iraq does not recognise the zones.

• The Pentagon
• United States European Command
• Office of the Iraq Programme

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