ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey closed its airspace to flights to and from an airport in Kurdish-administered northern Iraq, a high Turkish official introduced Wednesday, citing an alleged improve in Kurdish militant exercise threatening flight security.
International Ministry Spokesman Tanju Bilgic mentioned the Turkish airspace has been closed to flights taking off and touchdown at Suleimaniyah Worldwide Airport, in northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish area, since Tuesday.
The closure was in response to an alleged improve within the actions of the banned Kurdistan Employees’ Get together, or PKK, in Suleimaniyah in addition to its “infiltration” into the airport, Bilgic mentioned in a written assertion.
The choice comes weeks after two helicopters crashed in northern Iraq, killing Kurdish militants on board. The incident fueled claims that the PKK was in possession of helicopters which infuriated Turkish authorities.
The principle U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led drive in northeastern Syria later mentioned it misplaced 9 fighters, together with a commander, within the crash which occurred throughout unhealthy climate whereas on path to Suleimaniyah. The 9 killed included elite fighters who have been in Iraq as a part of an “change of experience” within the struggle towards the Islamic State group, mentioned the group often known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF.
The PKK has been waging an insurgency towards Turkey because the Eighties and is taken into account a terrorist group by Ankara, the USA and the European Union. Its militants have established secure havens in northern Iraq and continuously come beneath assault by Turkey within the area.
Turkey additionally considers a Syrian Kurdish militant group, which varieties the spine of the SDF, as a terrorist group. America nevertheless, distinguishes between the PKK and SDF and doesn’t take into account the SDF a terrorist group.
Bilgic mentioned the Turkish airspace would stay closed till July 3, when Turkish authorities would evaluate the safety scenario.
The helicopter crash additionally fed into an area rivalry between the 2 principal Kurdish events in Iraq.
Officers from the Kurdish Democratic Get together, which has maintained largely good relations with Turkey, alleged after the crash that the helicopters had been initially bought by the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan occasion, which has its stronghold in Suleimaniyah, and that that they had been flying with out permission from the regional authorities.