BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid will summon Turkey’s ambassador to Iraq to protest a drone strike on a small airport in the Kurdistan region on Monday that left several members of the Iraqi security forces dead, a presidency statement said.
Three members of the Iraqi counterterrorism service were killed and three others wounded on Monday in the strike on the small military airport of Arbid, the Iraqi military said.
Bafel Talabani, president of the PUK, one of the dominant Kurdish parties in northern Iraq, said a total of six dead and several wounded were members of the Iraqi Kurdish counter-terrorism force.
The drone entered Iraqi airspace through Turkey’s border, Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rasool said in a statement early on Tuesday, adding: “Iraq reserves the right to put an end to these violations.”
Turkey regularly carries out air strikes that it says target Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in northern Iraq, and has dozens of outposts in Iraqi territory.
The PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.
A Turkish foreign ministry statement, while not outright claiming the strike, said “the latest incident has once again confirmed the accuracy of Turkey’s measures.”
It said that “at the time of the explosion,” counterterrorism forces affiliated with the Iraqi Kurdish PUK party were training together with PKK “terrorists.”
The statement reiterated Turkey’s call for Iraq to designate the PKK as a terrorist organisation.
The United States and United Nations missions in Iraq both condemned the strike, without naming who had done it.
“Attacks repeatedly violating Iraqi sovereignty must stop. Security concerns must be addressed through dialogue and diplomacy – not strikes,” the U.N. mission in Iraq said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Arbid is a small airport used for helicopters located 50 km (30 miles) to the east of the city of Sulaimaniya in the northeast of the country.
One security source said initial information suggested a Turkish drone was used in the attack against a suspected PKK target.
(Reporting by Timour Azhari in Baghdad and Huseyin Hayatsever in Ankara; Editing by Matthew Lewis)