Drone attack kills three counterterrorism fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan | ET REALITY

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A drone strike on a small airport killed three members of an elite Iraqi Kurdish counterterrorism task force operating in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

Three members of the task force were also wounded in the attack on the airport, which is about 17 kilometers southeast of Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan’s second-largest city.

Turkey and more recently Iran have attacked Kurdish militants from their countries taking refuge in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

The airport, primarily used by small agricultural aircraft to spray pesticides, was recently repurposed to also serve as a training ground for Kurdish counterterrorism forces.

Elite forces have focused primarily on Islamic State fighters in recent years, but now other Islamic militant groups also move across Iraq’s porous borders with Iran and Turkey.

The Iraqi government announced early Tuesday that the drone was launched by Turkey and called on Ankara to stop such attacks.

“This aggression constitutes a violation of the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Iraq,” said Maj. Gen. Yahya Rasoul Abdullah, the prime minister’s military spokesman. “These repeated attacks are not consistent with the principle of good neighborly relations between countries, and threaten to undermine Iraq’s efforts to build good and balanced political, economic and security relations with its neighbors.”

Kurdish leaders, whose territory is routinely attacked by Turkey, used angrier rhetoric.

“This criminal act is an open crossing of the border of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, and is part of the conspiracy aimed at disturbing the peace and stability of the Kurdistan Region,” said Bafel Talabani, president of the Patriotic Union. of Kurdistan. , one of the two main political parties in Kurdistan and the dominant one in Sulaymaniyah.

Turkey has been particularly aggressive in using drone strikes against a Turkish-Kurdish insurgent group, the PKK, which regularly bombs sites in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In April, a similar drone attack occurred near Sulaymaniyah International Airport, but there were no casualties. Türkiye denied responsibility for that attack.

Lt. Gen. Jabbar Yawar, a former minister of the Peshmerga, the Kurdistan Region’s military force, said Monday’s attack followed the pattern of previous ones by Turkey.

“We record daily violations by Turkey on our borders, and we do not know when these attacks will stop and when the central government would intervene to put an end to these intrusions,” he said in an interview, adding that only in 2023, security officials had tracked more than 200 times that Turkey had attempted to violate or had violated Iraqi territory.

The International Crisis Group has documented a increasing number of Turkish attacks against PKK militants inside Iraq between 2018 and 2022, and the number exceeded 300 in 2022.

Turkey has fought for decades against the PKK, which waged a violent insurgency first inside Turkey and then, after most of its fighters fled to Iraq, organized attacks from there. The United States and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist organization.

Alissa Rubin reported from Baghdad. Kamil Kakol contributed reporting from Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, and Falih Hassan contributed from Baghdad.

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