Airstrike on northern Iraq military airport kills 3
Associated Press September 18, 2023
IRBIL, Iraq — An airstrike on a military airport in northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region killed three people Monday, local officials said.
The region’s counter-terrorism service said in a statement that the attack on the Arbat Airport, about 17½ miles southeast of the city of Suleimaniyah killed three of its personnel and injured three members of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
The airport had recently undergone rehabilitation to facilitate the training of anti-terror units affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two often-competing main parties in the region, whose seat of power is in Sulaymaniyah.
The counter-terrorism service did not blame the attack on any party, but the Sulaymaniyah governorate in a statement urged “countries in the region to respect the sovereignty of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq,” implying that the strike was carried out by Turkey.
Also on Monday, the Kurdistan National Congress, an umbrella organization of Kurdish groups and parties, said in a statement that one of its members was “assassinated” inside the group’s office in Erbil without giving further details.
Turkey often launches strikes against targets in Syria and Iraq that it believes to be affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a Kurdish separatist group that has waged an insurgency against Turkey since the 1980s.
In April, Turkey closed its airspace to flights to and from the Sulaymaniyah International Airport, citing an alleged increase in Kurdish militant activity threatening flight safety.
Days later, the Syrian Democratic Forces — Kurdish-led forces operating in northeast Syria that are allied to the United States in its fight against the Islamic State but considered by Turkey to be an offshoot of the PKK — accused Turkey of launching a strike on the airport when SDF commander Mazloum Abdi was at the site. Abdi was unharmed.