PUK adviser contradicts KDP statement on Turkish attack in Sulaymaniyah

PUK advisor Burhan Rauf calls the Turkish drone attack on the airport in Sulaymaniyaha dangerous interference in Iraqi sovereignty and contradicts the justifications of the KDP, the ruling party in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq).

Burhan Rauf, communications advisor for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), spoke to RojNews on the Turkish drone attack on 8 April on the international airport in Sulaymaniyah. At around 4pm local time on Friday afternoon, an unmanned combat drone belonging to the NATO member Turkey attacked a convoy at the airport site in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), but apparently missed the target.

"Turkey's measures against Sulaymaniyah, such as the closure of the airspace and the attack on the airport, are dangerous developments. They are direct interventions in the internal affairs of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq," said the PUK advisor.

Turkey closed the airspace for flights to and from Sulaymaniyah earlier this week because of alleged threats from the PKK. Turkish media speculated that the closure of airspace was linked to the helicopter crashes in mid-March in the KRI. The crash of two aircraft that had taken off from the autonomous region of northern and eastern Syria killed nine fighters from the SDF's counter-terrorist units on 15 March. The members of the YAT counter-terrorism units, which specialise in the fight against the jihadist militia ISIS, wanted to exchange security issues and military expertise with the PUK peshmerga in Sulaymaniyah when the two helicopters crashed due to bad weather conditions near Amadiya. Ankara threatened the PUK with "countermeasures" after the fatal accident, but without elaborating.

Rauf further stated, "This is a violation of Iraq's sovereignty, and it is the duty of the Iraqi government to protect sovereignty. As PUK, it is our duty to strongly condemn this attack and respond to Turkey's interventions through diplomatic, political and legal means."

In addition, the PUK's communications advisor also addressed the statement made after the drone attack on Friday by Cotyar Adil, the spokesperson for the KDP-dominated KRI government. Adil had blamed the PUK administration for "the general dangerous situation", referring to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, which had spoken of an increase in PKK terrorist activities in Sulaymaniyah on Wednesday. Ankara claimed that the organisation infiltrated the city's airport and threatened flight safety.


In response to Cotyat Adil's justification of the attack, Burhan Rauf said: "We do not consider this statement as a government statement. It is only the views of KDP ministers in the regional government and it is unacceptable to find an excuse for attacking a town in the region. Those who justify this attack will pay a heavy price. The town of Sulaymaniyah was attacked by Turkey because of its national stance."


Regarding the PUK's stance on national unity, Rauf said, "The PUK's stance on national problems has not changed in the past and today. It will continue to maintain this stance in the coming period." Rauf vehemently contradicted the KDP's accusation of the PUK supporting armed groups in Kurdistan: "This accusation is far from the truth. The PUK only establishes relations with the SDF, who are a member of the coalition against ISIS and have liberated Raqqa. It has often been emphasised worldwide that they are fighting for all humanity. The PUK maintains relations with them with the knowledge of the international coalition and the USA and in accordance with the decision of the Kurdistan Region Parliament. The KDP's statements are far from reality."