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3 dead in drone strike on Iraqi Kurdistan airfield: statement

Buildings at the airfield pictured after the drone strike
— Arbat (Iraq) (AFP)

Three members of Iraqi Kurdistan's anti-terrorism forces were killed Monday in a drone strike that hit an airfield near Sulaimaniyah, the autonomous northern region's anti-terrorism services said in a statement.

"Unfortunately the bombing killed three of our Peshmerga comrades from the anti-terrorist services" and wounded three others, the statement said, without identifying those behind the attack.

The drone strike targeted anti-terror forces at the Arbat airfield, southeast of Sulaimaniyah, which is mainly used by crop-spraying aircraft.

A "thorough investigation" has been launched into this "terrorist crime committed by foreign servants and local spies", the anti-terrorism services said.

"To protect the investigation, we will preserve the confidentiality of information. In the future we will reveal the truth to the people of Kurdistan," it added.

Attacks against Kurdistan's security forces are rare.

On Sunday, a Turkish drone strike in northern Iraq killed at least four members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), including a senior official, the Iraqi Kurdish authorities said.

Turkey has set up dozens of military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan over the past 25 years to fight against the group.

In April 2023, Iraq accused Turkey of carrying out a "bombardment" in the vicinity of the airport at Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan's second-largest city.

The strike took place while US soldiers and the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-allied coalition dominated by Kurds, were at the airport.

The Turkish army rarely comments on its strikes in Iraq but routinely conducts military operations against PKK rear bases in autonomous Kurdistan as well as Sinjar district.

Iran has also carried out strikes on Iraqi Kurdistan.

A year ago, Tehran repeatedly bombed positions of various Iranian Kurdish opposition groups accused of involvement in protests that erupted in Iran after the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian Kurdish woman.

Bafel Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in power in Sulaimaniyah, condemned Monday's "terrorist attack".

"In the face of repeated violations, it is the duty of all political parties in Kurdistan to face security threats and challenges together, and to protect Kurdistan from its enemies," he said in a statement.

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