Drone missile explodes near Sulaymaniyah Airport, targets SDF chief
The Civil Defense Directorate in Al-Sulaimaniyah Governorate claims that a small fire broke out near the airport and was quickly brought under control.
Al Mayadeen correspondent reported an explosion near the perimeter of Al-Sulaimaniyah International Airport in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region caused by a drone missile that reportedly targeted the commander-in-chief of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Mazloum Abdi.
"This evening, April 7, 2023 at 4:18 pm, an explosion happened near the fences of the Sulaimaniyah International Airport," the Security Directorate of the Airport confirmed in a statement.
However, the statement claimed that the explosion caused no material damage or casualties, adding that the blast sparked a fire that was extinguished.
"Our forces are currently investigating the incident and will announce more information" at a later time, the statement read.
On its part, the Civil Defense Directorate in Al-Sulaimaniyah Governorate claimed that "what happened this afternoon near the airport was a small fire that broke out in some debris that was quickly brought under control."
Turkey suspends air links with Al-Sulaimaniyah
This comes after the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday that Turkey has closed its airspace to flights from the city of Al-Sulaimaniyah, blaming what it called the increased activity of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The Ministry said in a statement that Ankara shut down air links with the city on Monday, noting that the freeze on flights would last until at least July 3 before being reviewed.
"This decision has been taken in the context of the intensification of activities of the PKK at Sulaimaniyah, the intrusion of the terrorist organisation at the airport and the threat it poses to air security," the statement pointed out.
The governor of Al-Sulaimaniyah province, Haval Abu Bakr, urged Ankara to "revise" its decision.
"I can tell you that Sulaimaniyah and its airport are secure," he told AFP, adding that "initiatives" were underway between those concerned.
The SDF confirmed last month that one of its top commanders was among nine militants killed when two helicopters crashed in Iraq in mid-March.
They had been heading to Al-Sulaimaniyah for talks on security and military issues.