Iraq demands Turkey apologise for drone strike on Syrian Kurdish leader

Iraq has demanded an apology from Turkey over a drone strike that focused a Syrian Kurdish chief who’s a key western ally within the combat in opposition to Islamic State.

Iraq’s president on Saturday referred to as the assault on Friday a “flagrant aggression on Iraq and its sovereignty”.

“On this regard we name on the Turkish authorities to take accountability and current an official apology,” Iraq’s presidency mentioned in a press release, including that Ankara had no authorized justification to proceed “terrorising civilians below the pretext that forces hostile to it are current on Iraqi soil”.

The strike reportedly focused Mazloum Abdi, the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia which controls massive components of northeastern Syria. The US arms and trains the SDF in its marketing campaign in opposition to Isis and retains about 800 troops in Syria to assist the SDF.

The SDF confirmed Abdi’s presence on the airport in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan area on the time of the assault, having withheld the knowledge till he returned dwelling safely on Saturday.

“We strongly condemn the focusing on of Sulaimaniya airport by Turkey,” Abdi tweeted Saturday.

In an interview with the Kurdish North press company, Abdi mentioned that he had been travelling in a convoy that additionally included US and coalition troops.

When requested the rationale for his journey, he mentioned the SDF have “joint operations” with Iraqi and Kurdish anti-terrorism forces that the US-led anti-Isis coalition is aware of about. A spokesman for US Central Command didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Abdi mentioned the assault is “a transparent message from the Turks that they’re bothered and oppose our worldwide relations they usually need to injury them”.

Turkey’s Overseas Ministry didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Turkey usually conducts air and small-scale land operations in northern Iraq, dwelling to the outlawed Kurdistan Employees’ get together (PKK) which has waged a decades-long insurgency in opposition to the Turkish state. The military has additionally staged three full-scale incursions into Syria since 2016 to combat the PKK’s Syrian affiliate, the Individuals’s Safety Items (YPG).

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation in Europe and the US. However throughout the border in Syria, the YPG are the dominant drive within the SDF. Washington’s assist for the SDF has been a long-running level of friction between the Nato allies.

Friday’s drone strike comes days after Turkey closed its airspace to flights to and from the Sulaimaniya airport till July 3, citing an alleged improve in PKK exercise and its “infiltration” of the airport.

That call adopted a helicopter crash final month which killed 9 Kurdish militants who had been on board. The incident infuriated Ankara over claims the PKK was in possession of helicopters.

The SDF later mentioned it misplaced eight fighters and one commander when the 2 helicopters crashed because of unhealthy climate. The SDF mentioned these fighters had been in Iraq for an “change of experience” within the combat in opposition to Islamic State.

Further reporting by Adam Samson in Ankara.

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