Suspected Turkish drone strike in Sulaimaniyah wounds 2 as Iraq accuses PKK of destabilising the country

Suspected Turkish drone strike in Sulaimaniyah wounds 2 as Iraq accuses PKK of destabilising the country
The attack has raised significant concerns among local residents, who perceive it as a dangerous escalation given its occurrence in a residential area.
4 min read
02 July, 2024
Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Moqdad Miri speaks before three blindfolded men in yellow suits during a press conference in Baghdad on 1 July 2024. [Getty]

At least two people were injured on Tuesday in a suspected Turkish drone strike on a car in a residential area of Sulaimaniyah city in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

According to a statement by Sulaimaniyah-based security forces (locally known as "Asayish"), an investigation into the incident is underway, with the cause of the blast still undetermined. However, local Kurdish media and observers have suggested that a Turkish drone conducted the airstrike, targeting two Kurdish activists from Turkey.

The explosion occurred at approximately 11:30 a.m. when a white Kia Sportage was hit near the Miran City residential complex in Sulaimaniyah's Raparin neighbourhood, injuring the driver and a passenger, as per Kurdish security forces.

The New Arab attempted to obtain further clarification from a spokesperson for the city's security forces were met with a refusal to comment.

The attack has raised concerns among local residents, who view it as a dangerous escalation due to the targeting of a residential area.

Last month, Turkey has decided to extend the ban on flights through Turkish airspace to and from Sulaimaniyah International Airport in Iraqi Kurdistan until 7 December 2024. 

This incident coincided with a visit by a delegation from the Iraqi parliament's foreign relations committee to Sulaimaniyah International Airport to investigate Turkish claims that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is using the airport for military activities.

Turkey has long accused the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which has de facto control over Sulaimaniyah, of shielding the PKK's operations in the province. The PUK consistently denies these allegations.

In a related development, the interior ministries of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) accused the PKK of being responsible for a series of destructive fires in bazaars across the Erbil, Duhok, and Kirkuk provinces.

The past few months have seen significant outbreaks of fires in bazaars throughout Iraq and the Kurdistan region, resulting in hundreds of injuries, the destruction of numerous shops and storage units, and extensive financial damage estimated in the millions of dollars. The frequent occurrences of these fires have led officials and citizens to suspect arson.

In a joint press conference, the Iraqi and Kurdish interior ministries presented the findings of a bilateral investigation, attributing the fires to the PKK. They disclosed that three suspects had been apprehended in connection with the fires, all of whom admitted to being PKK members.

Hemin Mirany, chief of staff to the KRG's interior ministry, indicated that two of the arrested individuals were members of the Peshmerga's Unit 70 forces and the Sulaimaniyah-based Counter-Terrorism Group (CTG), both associated with the PUK, who had been "recruited" by the Kurdish group.

Live Story

Miqdad Miri, spokesperson for Iraq's interior ministry, identified the PKK as the "sponsoring and executing party" of the operation. He suggested that the PKK's objective was to disrupt the commercial interests of a country they oppose, likely referring to Turkey, and to destabilise the economy and security in the Kurdistan region, thereby provoking public discontent.

In a press conference on Monday, Saedi Ahmed Pira, the PUK's spokesperson, denied the PUK's involvement in the fires and noted that one of the CTG members had been dismissed eight months prior. Pira also accused the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of attempting to delay the region's parliamentary elections in October by falsely implicating the PUK in the fires.

The PKK  rejected the allegations, countering that Turkey's spy agency MIT was the one responsible for destabilising Iraq and the Kurdistan region through harmful actions and cross-border military operations, aimed at occupying northern Iraq.

Miri noted that the PKK had plans to target additional locations in Erbil, Duhok, Kirkuk, and Baghdad, including the Ceyhan pipeline from Kirkuk to Turkey. The group was also planning similar operations in two neighbouring countries.

The PKK, designated as a terrorist organization by Ankara and the West, has waged an armed insurgency against the Turkish state for decades in pursuit of greater Kurdish rights. Following discussions with Turkish officials, Iraq also designated the PKK as a "banned organisation" in March.