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Sulaymaniyah Airport area in Iraq hit by an explosion

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An explosion rocked an area close to Sulaymaniyah airport in the area controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq on Friday.

The blast comes amid tensions with nearby Turkey after Ankara closed its airspace on Wednesday to flights from the city, blaming increased activity by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the region.

A statement by the security services at the airport said that shortly after four o’clock in the afternoon (1300 GMT), “an explosion occurred near the wall of Sulaymaniyah airport, without causing any injuries, but it led to the outbreak of a fire that was controlled by the civil defense units.” .

She added that air traffic was not disrupted.

Local officials, including the deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan region, Qubad Talabani, spoke of an “attack” without going into details.

A statement from the Sulaymaniyah governorate, Haval Abu Bakr, said the explosion was the result of “air strikes” near the airport.

He called on “all political parties to put an end to their disputes” and not to turn the area under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government into “a battlefield to sort out their conflicting interests.”

On Wednesday, Turkey said the freeze on flights with Sulaymaniyah would last until at least July 3 before it was revised.

The Foreign Ministry said, “This decision was taken within the framework of the intensification of the terrorist activities of the PKK in Sulaymaniyah, and the terrorist group’s penetration into the airport, which poses a threat to the safety of flights.”

Turkey has long stressed that it will not tolerate terrorist threats against national security, and has called on Iraqi officials to take the necessary steps to eliminate the terrorist group PKK.

Ankara has previously indicated that it will not avoid targeting terrorist threats if the expected steps are not taken. However, in the past two years, intensive operations in northern Iraq have led to the demolition of terrorist dens in Metina, Avashin Basian, Zab and Gara. After eliminating the group’s influence in these areas, Turkey also aims to clear Qandil, Sinjar, and Makhmur.

The Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq are a stronghold of the PKK, and the group is active in several nearby cities and towns. In addition, it occupies many villages in the region as it launches attacks on Turkey.

The announcement on Wednesday came more than a week after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received Sudanese Prime Minister Muhammad Shia in Ankara, where he called on the Iraqi people to recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization.

For his part, Al-Sudani stressed that Iraq will not allow any terrorist group to use its territory to launch attacks on Turkey.

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