Iraq urges Turkey to apologize for attack on Sulaymaniyah airport


ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) The Iraqi government on Saturday called on Turkey to apologize for the alleged attack on Sulaymaniyah airport in northern Iraq, and Turkey must end hostilities inside Iraq.

In a statement, the Iraqi president’s office said there was no legal justification for Turkey “to intimidate civilians on the pretext of having hostile forces inside Iraq.”

“In this context, we call on the Turkish government to take responsibility and publicly apologize,” he said.

Lawk Ghafuri, head of foreign media affairs at the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), said the drone strike on Friday near Sulaymaniyah Airport did not cause damage, delays or stop flights. 

A Turkish defense ministry official told Reuters there were no operations by Turkish forces in the area on Friday. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement on Saturday that head Mazloum Abdi was at the airport when the alleged attack occurred, but that “there was no damage”.

Abdi condemned Saturday’s attack but did not say he was attacked.

Sources close to the leadership of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the political party that controls the Sulaimaniyah territory, and two Kurdish security officials also said Abdi and his three US military personnel were near the airport. I confirmed that I was there.

Three sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no one was injured or killed in the incident.

U.S. officials confirmed that a convoy had been attacked in the area and U.S. military personnel were among them, but there were no casualties. Turkey views Syria’s Kurdish-led forces as terrorists and a threat to national security, while the United States views the Self-Defense Forces as an ally that helped drive Islamic State out of Syria.

Over the decades, Turkey has conducted several military operations in northern Iraq and northern Syria, including airstrikes against Syrian Kurdish YPG militias, Islamic State and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The attack claims come days after Turkey closed its airspace to aircraft flying in and out of Sulaymaniyah amid suspicions of increased activity by PKK militants there.

The banned PKK, which has led an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.