| 9 December 2023, Saturday |

Iraq condemns Turkish attack on Sulaymaniyah airport

Iraq demanded an apology from Turkiye over the drone attack that targeted the Sulaymaniyah International Airport on Friday in the Kurdistan region of Iraq without causing any casualties. President Abdul Latif Rashid condemned the blatant Turkish attacks on Iraq and its sovereignty, saying: “Turkish military operations are repeated in the Kurdistan region, the latest of which was the bombing of the Sulaymaniyah civilian airport.” The presidency issued a statement affirming there was “no legal justification” that authorizes the Turkish forces to continue “terrorizing peaceful civilians under the pretext that hostile forces are in Iraq.” “In this regard, we call on the Turkish government to take responsibility and issue an official apology,” the statement said. In an unusual statement, the First Lady of Iraq, Shanaz Ibrahim Ahmed, strongly condemned Turkiye, accusing it of terrorism. In a press conference in Sulaymaniyah, Ahmed accused “Turkish terrorism” of targeting citizens with drones and terrorist tools. She warned that the “Turkish terrorist act” on the international airport affected the sovereignty of Iraq and Sulaymaniyah. The leader of the Shiite Coordination Framework and the head of the Badr Organization, Hadi al-Amiri, called on Turkiye to stop its attacks on Iraqi territory. Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi also said the attack proved “the scale of foreign interference in Iraq.” The National Security Adviser, Qassem al-Araji, arrived in Sulaymaniyah at the head of a high-ranking security delegation under the direction of Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani. Sources in the Turkish Defense Ministry denied any involvement in Friday’s attack. The sources told AFP that “Turkish armed forces undertook no such activity.” The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) denied that the strike was intended to target its commander-in-chief, Mazloum Abdi, who was at the airport with members of the US forces at the time of the attack. However, Abdi condemned the attack, saying these violations continue in Iraq and Syria and have serious dimensions against the region. He accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of standing behind the attack, looking for a “free victory” ahead of the upcoming presidential elections and aiming to create chaos. Meanwhile, the sharp division between the two main Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), resurfaced with the attack. The two parties exchanged accusations over the incident a few days after Turkiye banned transit flights over its territory to Sulaymaniyah Airport. The vice president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Qubad Talabani, issued a scathing attack against the spokesman for the regional government, which the KDP primarily controls. Talabani, a member of the PUK, indicated that Jotiar Adil is not a spokesman for the regional government but instead “represents only one party … and cannot speak for the entire government.” Talabani also “strongly” condemned the attack on Sulaymaniyah Airport and considered it a dangerous escalation against the civilians. Earlier, Adil asserted in a statement that the Regional Government is concerned about the situation in all parts of the region and is doing its best to eliminate the effects of the two administrations and serve all the citizens without obstacles or discrimination. He accused the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of obstructing the government and its institutions, saying that instead of helping and resolving issues through official channels, Talabani disavows responsibility and is not committed to his tenure as deputy prime minister. For his part, the governor of Sulaymaniyah, Haval Abubakir, confirmed there were no casualties due to the air strike, calling on all political parties to “end their differences and not make Kurdistan a victim of their disputes.”

  • Asharq Al-Awsat