Iraq condemns attack of Sulaymaniyah Airport; demands apology from Turkey

Wikipedia / Maj. Juanita Chang

The government of Iraq called on Turkey to apologize for what it believes is a Turkish attack on Sulaymaniyah International Airport (ISU) on April 7, 2023.

What happened?

ISU airport is located 14 kilometers outside the city of Sulaymaniyah, in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. 

Shortly after 16:00 local time on April 7, 2023, “an explosion took place near the wall of Sulaymaniyah airport without causing any injury, but led to a fire which was brought under control by civil defense units,” a statement from the airport security said, as reported by the Daily Sabah

Lawk Ghafuri, head of foreign media affairs for the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), confirmed with Reuters that a drone attack hit the vicinity of ISU airport but it caused no casualties, damage, nor delays or suspension of flights.

Reuters also reported that the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement that its chief, Mazloum Abdi, was at ISU airport at the time of the alleged attack but “no harm was done”.

Who attacked Sulaymaniyah Airport? 

The explosion occurred two days after Turkey announced that it is closing its air space to flights to and from ISU airport, citing increased activity of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as its reason.  

“This decision has been taken in the context of the intensification of activities of the PKK at Sulaymaniyah, the intrusion of the terrorist organization at the airport and the threat it poses to air security,” the Turkish foreign ministry said. 

Over the past decades, Turkey has conducted several military operations including air strikes in northern Iraq and northern Syria against the Syrian Kurdish militia, Islamic State and the PKK.

When asked about the reason behind the attack, SDF chief Abdi told Aljazeera: “It is a clear message from the Turks that they are bothered and oppose our international relations and they want to damage them.”

According to Arab News, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based opposition war monitor, and some local media reported that the explosion was a Turkish drone attack on Abdi. 

Statement from the Iraqi government

Reuters reported that on April 8, 2023, the Iraqi government issued a statement that Turkey had no legal justification to continue “intimidating civilians under the pretext that forces hostile to it are present on Iraqi soil”.

“In this regard we call on the Turkish government to take responsibility and present an official apology,” it said.

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