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Iraq condemns Turkish ‘bombing’ near airport in Kurdistan

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Iraq on Saturday called on Turkey to apologize for what it considers to be the bombing of Sulaymaniah airport in Iraqi Kurdistan. Iraqi President Abdel Latif Rashid has urged the Turkish government to cease hostilities on Iraqi soil, the scene of deadly struggles between Ankara and Kurdish PKK fighters.

Iraqi President Abdel Latif Rachid condemned, on Saturday April 8, a “bombardment” carried out the day before against the airport of Souleymanieh in Iraqi Kurdistan attributed to Turkish forces, urging the Turkish government to cease hostilities on Iraqi soil.

In a statement, the Iraqi presidency writes that Turkey has no legal justification for “pursuing its business of intimidating civilians on the pretext that forces hostile to it are present on Iraqi soil”.

Iraq also called on the Türkiye to apologize.

Friday, the security services of the airport of Souleymanieh, second city of Iraqi Kurdistan, had laconically reported an “explosion” near the surrounding wall which had not caused any victims.

“Turkish military operations against the Kurdistan region are repeated, the latest being the bombardment against the civilian airport of Souleymanieh”, accused the Iraqi presidency on Saturday. “By condemning these attacks on Iraq and its sovereignty, we assure that there is no legal justification allowing Turkish forces to continue” such actions, the statement added.

Ankara denial

Contacted by AFP, a source at the Ministry of Defense in Ankara denied any involvement, saying that “the Turkish armed forces had no such activity”.

Turkey closed its airspace at the beginning of April to planes coming from and going to Souleymanieh airport. Ankara justified this measure by accusing the fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of having intensified their activities in the sector, even castigating an “intrusion” by the organization into the airport.

For decades, the conflict between Turkey and the PKK, a movement classified as “terrorist” by Ankara and its Western allies, has spilled over into northern Iraq, with both sides having military positions or rear bases there.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous region in the north of the country, Ankara occasionally carries out drone strikes against the PKK. The Turkish army has also launched several offensives in neighboring Syria against a coalition dominated by Kurdish fighters, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which it considers an extension of the PKK.

Illustrating the complexity of a conflict involving many belligerents, this coalition reacted Friday evening to the Souleymanieh incident.

Referring to “information that claims” that the commander-in-chief of the SDF, Mazloum Abdi, had been targeted, the coalition assured that it was “unfounded” information.

Mazloum Abdi himself condemned the bombardment against Souleymanieh airport on Saturday. He also estimated in a tweet that the “position of support” provided by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the party in charge of Souleymanieh, “to his brothers in Syria irritated Turkey”, promising to continue “our principled relations with our brothers and allies in Souleymanieh”.

Considering the SDF and its main component, the YPG (People’s Protection Units), as an extension of the PKK, Turkey calls them “terrorists”, even if they are valuable allies of Washington in the fight against the group’s jihadists. Islamic State.

In Iraq, Ankara has installed for 25 several dozen military bases in autonomous Kurdistan, which has no choice but to accept this presence and the land and air operations carried out regularly against the PKK.

In July 2022, artillery strikes blamed on Ankara against a Kurdistan recreation area killed nine civilians, including women and children. Turkey had denied any responsibility and accused the PKK.

With AFP and Reuters

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