Iraqi airport of Erbil targeted by drone loaded with explosives | Middle East News

No injuries, injuries reported in the attack on the military section of the airport where US-led international coalition forces are deployed.

Erbil International Airport in northern Iraq was hit by an explosives-laden drone, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said, an unprecedented escalation in the types of weapons used to target American soldiers based there.

The military section of the airport where US-led international coalition forces are deployed was the target of Wednesday’s attack.

“A drone loaded with TNT targeted a coalition base at Arbil airport,” the regional interior ministry said on Wednesday, adding that no one was injured in the blast but a building had been damaged.

An explosion was also heard near the area and an investigation into the incident was opened, the ministry said in an earlier statement.

Turkey said one of its soldiers was killed by rocket fire around the same time at a military base 50 km east of Bashiqa.

There was no immediate confirmation of a link between the two attacks and no claim of responsibility for the attack on the airport.

Witnesses reported that a security cordon blocked all access to the airport, adding that they saw a plume of smoke rising from the area.

About 20 bomb and rocket attacks have targeted bases housing US soldiers or diplomats in Iraq since US President Joe Biden took office at the end of January.

Dozens more have taken place over the previous 18 months, with Washington consistently blaming pro-Iran factions.

Iran said in March that it was not behind the attacks.

Washington and Tehran are both allies of Baghdad but remain at odds over Iran’s nuclear program.

Recent escalation

On February 15, more than a dozen rockets targeted a military compound inside Erbil Airport, killing an Iraqi civilian and a foreign contractor working with US-led troops.

The complex hosts foreign troops deployed as part of a US-led coalition helping Iraq fight the ISIL group (ISIL), a conflict Baghdad declared won in late 2017.

Turkey has had troops in the region for more than two decades as part of its attempt to crush rebels from the legally banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting the Turkish state since 1984.

Earlier Wednesday, two bombs also exploded on roads where Iraqi logistics convoys were transporting equipment for the international coalition in the southern provinces of Dhi Qar and Diwaniyah, according to security sources.

Last week, the United States pledged to relocate all remaining combat forces from Iraq, although the two countries did not set a timeline for what would be the second withdrawal since the 2003 invasion.

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