SDF confirms top commander was in Sulaymaniyah during suspected Turkish air strike
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) confirmed on Saturday that SDF's Commander-in-Chief Mazloum Abdi was in Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) during a suspected Turkish drone attack, which according to a report by Wall Street Journal targeted Abdi.
SDF spokesperson Farhad Shami, who had earlier denied reports that Abdi was the target, said in a statement on Saturday that they did not want to disclose Abdi's whereabouts in order to ensure his safety till he arrived back in northeast Syria.
Sami added that there were no casualties in the attack in the international airport of Sulaymaniyah and that further details about the attack will be provided soon.
US Pentagon spokesperson Philip Ventura confirmed the attack and said there were no casualties. He told Rudaw on Saturday:
"We can confirm there was a strike on a convoy Friday in Sulaymaniyah that included US military personnel. Fortunately, we can also confirm there were no casualties."
Bafel Talabani, President of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), said after a meeting with an Iraqi delegation led by Iraqi National Security Advisor Qassim Al-Araji that the attack at Sulaymaniyah airport is unacceptable.
Condemning the attack, Talabani hinted at the motivation of the attack, saying, "PUK is being punished for its national stances."
Turkey's presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin had said on Wednesday:
"We know that the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] has a serious presence in Sulaymaniyah. We will never allow this."
Sulaymaniyah is under the control of PUK, one of the two major political parties in KRI alongside the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and is engaged in close cooperation with the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and its armed force SDF, unlike KDP who is a close ally of Turkey.
Talabani also implicitly criticized KDP over its stance at the airport attack, saying:
"We never expected that the local security agencies would implement foreign conspiracies."
KDP accused PUK, after the attack, of using government institutions for illegal activities, and claimed that such behavior was the reason for Turkey's recent decision to close its airspace to flights destined to and from Sulaymaniyah airport.