Explosion at Sulaymaniyah airport: An "attack" according to KRG
A blast went off on Friday near the international airport in Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), without casualties, Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported, citing airport administration.
While the explosion at 04:18 PM near the fences of the airport started a fire, firefighting teams have quickly taken it under control, the administration said, adding:
"The police is investigating the incident and will provide further information later (...) There are no problems concerning flights or airport operations."
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) issued a statement expressing their concern and called the explosion an "attack."
"This dangerous situation is the result of the occupation of government institutions and their use for illegal activities," KRG spokesperson Jotiar Adil said, indirectly blaming the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), according to Rudaw.
Adil also accused "an authoritarian party regime in Sulaymaniyah" for its "behavior" that recently led to the closure of Turkish airspace towards Sulaymaniyah International Airport.
The explosion came a few days after Turkey imposed a three-month flight ban on the airport because of what Turkey's foreign ministry called "infiltration" by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The ban is believed to be related to a helicopter crash in Duhok province on 15 March, killing anti-terrorism forces affiliated with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who were traveling to Sulaymaniyah. Ankara claims that the SDF, a major ally of the US-led international coalition in Syria, has links to the PKK, designated a "terrorist group" by Ankara.
Ibrahim Kalin, Turkish presidential spokesperson, told the country's state media on Wednesday that "the PKK has a very serious establishment in Sulaymaniyah" and Ankara will not remain silent on it.
On Thursday, a flight bound for Dusseldorf was cancelled because the ban prevented it from passing through Turkish airspace, according to a statement from Sulaymaniyah airport.
The PUK, that is one of the two largest political parties in KRI alongside the ruling Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), and who controls Sulaymaniyah province, has not immediately commented on the blast.