Six people were killed on Monday in a drone strike on the small military airport of Arbid in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, a local official and a security source told Reuters.
Iraqi Kurdish security forces sealed off the area, according to two security sources.
Arbid is a small airport used for helicopters located 50 km (30 miles) to the east of the city of Sulaymaniyah in the northeast of the country.
Two members of the Kurdish security forces were wounded in the attack and were rushed to a military hospital in Sulaymaniyah under tight security, said the police source.
Police said the identities of the deceased were still unknown.
One security source said initial information suggested a Turkish drone was used in the attack against a suspected Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) target.
Türkiye regularly carries out air strikes on PKK militants in northern Iraq and has dozens of outposts in Iraqi territory. The PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.
Bafel Talabani, President of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the dominant Kurdish parties in northern Iraq, confirmed the drone strike but said the six dead and wounded were members of the Iraqi Kurdish counter-terrorism force.
“We strongly condemn the terrorist attack on the Agricultural Airport of Arbid in Sulaymaniyah, which resulted in the martyrdom and injury of six heroic Peshmerga ...,” he said in a statement.
Iraqi Kurdistan’s internal security forces, Asayish, said in a statement the counter-terrorism force was attacked and three members were killed during a training mission inside the “agricultural airport.”
Iraqi Kurdistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani condemned the drone attack and demanded the intervention of the federal government authorities to “prevent these attacks from recurring.”
Two Iraqi army intelligence officers said Baghdad will send a joint security team to Sulaymaniyah to investigate the strike.
Also on Monday, the Kurdistan National Congress, an umbrella organization of Kurdish groups and parties, said in a statement that one of its members was “assassinated” inside the group’s office in the capital of the Kurdistan Region, Erbil, without giving further details.
Türkiye often launches strikes against targets in Syria and Iraq that it believes to be affiliated to the PKK.
In April, Türkiye closed its airspace to flights to and from the Sulaymaniyah International Airport, citing an alleged increase in Kurdish militant activity threatening flight safety.
Days later, the Syrian Democratic Forces — Kurdish-led forces operating in northeast Syria that are allied to the United States in its fight against the ISIS but considered by Türkiye to be an offshoot of the PKK — accused Türkiye of launching a strike on the airport when SDF commander Mazloum Abdi was at the site. Abdi was unharmed.