The commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Mazloum Abdi, survived a drone attack on Friday while he was at Sulaymaniyah Airport in Iraqi Kurdistan.
His targeting, which was denied by the SDF but confirmed by U.S. officials and other media sources, stemmed from the tension between Ankara and Sulaymaniyah. This tension arose due to the crash of two helicopters, which were carrying members of the Workers’ Party and the SDF.
“Accompanied by Americans”
As of now, it remains unknown who was responsible for targeting the SDF commander at Sulaymaniyah Airport. While reports suggest that a Turkish drone carried out the strike, there has been no official statement from Ankara at the time of writing.
After images from the scene surfaced on social media and the strike was made public, the SDF released a statement refuting claims that Mazloum Abdi had been the target of the attack. The statement read, “The reports stating that Mazloum Abdi was targeted in Sulaymaniyah are false, and he is currently carrying out his duties.”
According to the Wall Street Journal on Saturday night, U.S. officials stated that “a drone strike took place in northern Iraq on Friday, targeting Mazloum Abdi, a U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State.”
During the attack, Abdi was travelling in a convoy alongside three U.S. military personnel, and fortunately, there were no casualties, as reported by the newspaper.
According to Colonel Joe Buccino, a spokesperson for U.S. Central Command, a strike was conducted on a convoy in Sulaymaniyah, located in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Fortunately, no casualties were reported. The incident is presently under investigation.
Buccino’s statement did not specifically mention Turkey or Abdi.
Some Western officials suspect Turkey, which considers the SDF a terrorist, to be behind the strike, but Ankara has yet to comment.
While Luc Ghafouri, head of external media for the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, confirmed an explosion near Sulaymaniyah airport, he did not say who might be responsible.
He wrote in a tweet on Friday: “Investigations are underway by the security authorities to determine the causes of the explosion.”
How did he survive?
Unnamed sources cited by Russia Today claimed that Mazloum, who was reportedly riding in a military helicopter in the city of Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, was being monitored by two Turkish planes. These sources further alleged that two drones targeted the area near the plane carrying Mazloum, near the border of Sulaymaniyah airport.
The unnamed sources explained that the two Turkish planes were not able to target Mazloum directly due to the presence of foreign individuals who were not Syrian or Iraqi. As a result, they carried out warning strikes only.
In response to the attack on Sulaymaniyah International Airport in the Kurdistan region, the Iraqi presidency condemned the incident and called on the Turkish government to take responsibility and issue an official apology.
Haval Abu Bakr, the governor of Sulaymaniyah, condemned the recent “airstrike” on a location near the outskirts of Sulaymaniyah airport. In a statement, he called on all political parties to put aside their differences and refrain from making Kurdistan a victim of their conflicts.
The strike occurred just days after Turkish Airlines suspended flights to Sulaymaniyah Airport in Iraqi Kurdistan. The decision came after reports of an air corridor being used to transport PKK fighters between Syria and Iraq.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.