Airstrike on Northern Iraq Airport Claims Lives, Turkey Suspected

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Three individuals lost their lives in an unexpected airstrike which occurred at a military airport, located in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, according to local officials. The targeted airport, Arbat, lies 28 kilometers southeast of the city of Suleimaniyah.

The surprise attack not only claimed lives, but also inflicted injuries upon three members of the local Kurdish Peshmerga forces. The region’s counter-terrorism service, responsible for the wellbeing of those afflicted in the attack, issued a public announcement stating these facts. The military facility had recently been revamped, aiding in the training of forces charged with combating terror. These forces are affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan – one of two significant parties, often caught in competition, situated within the region.

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Despite the unfortunate event, the source of the attack remains unclear. The counter-terrorism service consciously refrained from associating blame to any party. However, the governorate of Sulaymaniyah, in an official statement, hinted at the possibility of Turkey being the perpetrator. Through their address, they appealed to regional countries to respect their sovereignty, as well as that of Kurdistan.

In an unfortunate coincidence, on the same day, another unsettling incident rattled the already troubled Kurdish region. The Kurdistan National Congress, a unified organization comprising several Kurdish groups and parties, claimed the assassination of one of its members. The murder occurred within the confines of the group’s headquarters in Erbil.

This is not an isolated instance of suspicion towards Turkey. Turkey has a history of orchestrating strikes aimed at targets in Syria and Iraq which they purport to be linked to the separatist group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK has been actively involved in an insurgent struggle against Turkey since the 1980s.

In an action further raising eyebrows, Turkey had enforced a closure of its airspace earlier in April, restricting flights to and from Sulaymaniyah International Airport. Citing a supposed surge in Kurdish extremist acts that simultaneously risked flight safety, they had tightened their defenses.

Subsequent to this, the Syrian Democratic Forces – a group led by Kurdish forces operating in Northeast Syria that stands in allyship with the United States against ISIS – expressed strong suspicions towards Turkey. The SDF insinuated Turkey’s involvement in an airstrike on the airport when SDF commander Mazloum Abdi was present. Nevertheless, Abdi escaped without any harm.