Erbil International Airport in northern Iraq has been hit by an explosives-laden drone, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said, an unprecedented escalation in the types of arms used to target US soldiers based there.
The military section of the airport where US-led international coalition forces are deployed was targeted in the attack on Wednesday.
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“A drone charged with TNT targeted a coalition base at Arbil’s airport,” the regional interior ministry said on Wednesday, adding that no one was hurt in the blast but a building was damaged.
An explosion was also heard near the area and an investigation into the incident has been launched, the ministry said in an earlier statement.
Turkey said one of its soldiers was killed by rocket fire at approximately the same time at a military base 50km (30 miles) east in Bashiqa.
There was no immediate confirmation of any link between the two attacks and no claim of responsibility for the attack on the airport.
Witnesses reported a security cordon had blocked all access to the airport, adding they saw a plume of smoke rising from the area.
Some 20 bomb or 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 took place over the preceding 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 sharply at odds over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Outraged by reports of attacks in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. The Iraqi people have suffered for far too long from this kind of violence and violation of their sovereignty.
— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) April 14, 2021
On February 15, more than a dozen rockets targeted a military complex 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 (ISIS) group, a conflict that Baghdad declared as won in late 2017.
Turkey has had troops in the area for more than two decades as part of its bid to crush rebels from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who have been fighting against the Turkish state since 1984.
Earlier on Wednesday, two bombs also exploded on roads where Iraqi logistics convoys were carrying equipment for the international coalition in the southern provinces of Dhi Qar and Diwaniyah, according to security sources.