A drone attack on a military airport near the city of Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq has killed at least six people and wounded three others, according to local officials. The attack took place on Monday around 4:00 pm local time.
The Arbat airport, located 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Sulaymaniyah, was used by the anti-terrorism combat apparatus that is part of the Sulaymaniyah security forces. The airport had recently undergone rehabilitation to facilitate the training of anti-terror units affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the two often-competing main parties in the region.
The region’s counter-terrorism service said in a statement that three of its personnel and three members of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces were killed in the attack. Two members of the Kurdish security forces were also injured and taken to a military hospital in Sulaymaniyah under tight security.
The identity and motive of the attackers remain unknown, but some sources have suggested that Turkey may be behind the strike. Turkey often launches strikes against targets in Syria and Iraq that it believes to be affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist group that has waged an insurgency against Turkey since the 1980s.
The Sulaymaniyah governorate issued a statement urging “countries in the region to respect the sovereignty of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq” and called for an investigation into the incident. The attack comes on a day when Iraq’s federal government gave the administration of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region more funding to allow it to pay salaries.
The attack also follows a similar incident on September 11, 2023, when Erbil International Airport in northern Iraq was targeted by a drone attack. No casualties were reported in that attack, which was claimed by an armed group calling itself Saraya Awliya al-Dam (Guardians of Blood Brigades). Erbil is the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region and hosts US troops and diplomats.