Iraq calls on Turkey to 'apologise' for Sulaymaniyah airport shelling

Iraq calls on Turkey to 'apologise' for Sulaymaniyah airport shelling
2 min read
08 April, 2023
Iraq called on Turkey on Saturday to apologise for a strike on Iraqi Kurdistan that US officials had claimed targeted Mazloum Abdi, commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The office of Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid called for an end to Turkish strikes on Iraqi soil [Murtadha Al-Sudani/Anadolu via Getty]

Iraq called on Turkey on Saturday to apologise for what it said was the shelling of Sulaymaniyah airport in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Iraqi presidency said in a statement that Turkey has no legal justification to "continue its approach of intimidating civilians under the pretext that forces hostile to it are present on Iraqi soil."

A drone attack hit the vicinity of Sulaymaniyah airport on Friday but caused no damage or delays or suspension of flights, the Kurdistan Regional Government said.

The attack came a few days after Turkey closed its airspace to aircraft travelling to and from Sulaymaniyah due to what it said was intensified activity there by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants.  

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Citing US officials, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the strike on Sulaymaniyah airport targeted Mazloum Abdi, Kurdish commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Three US military personnel were in the convoy with Abdi at the time of the attack, and there were no casualties, the US officials told WSJ.

The SDF had initially denied that Abdi had been targeted, calling the news "baseless".

However, SDF spokesperson Farhad Shami later said Abdi was "present" at the airport when the attack took place.

"As part of our emergency security response related to the safety of our forces' command, we deliberately restricted the release of information about the Turkish attack on Sulaymaniyah airport, where our Commander-in-Chief, Mazloum Abdi, was present," Shami said on Twitter.

"This was done to ensure his safety until he arrived unharmed in the secure areas of north and eastern Syria. We will provide further details about the attack at a later time."

Turkey accuses the SDF, who have been the US’ main partner in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria, of having ties to the PKK.

Turkey frequently conducts air strikes on Iraqi Kurdistan, whose mountains are used as by the PKK as bases. Turkey has dozens of military bases in the same area.

With reporting from Reuters