U.N. envoy says drone attack on Erbil ‘reckless attempts’ to inflame tensions

Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert briefs U.N. Security Council, December 3, 2020. (UNAMI)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — U.N. Envoy to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said on Thursday that a drone attack on the Kurdistan Region was “reckless attempts” to exacerbate tensions.

An explosives-laden drone targeted a base housing U.S.-led Coalition forces at Erbil airport on Wednesday night, without causing casualties.

Coalition spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto said the drone landed on a storage hanger at Erbil airport base and confirmed there were no injuries, according to AP.

“Last night’s events in the Kurdistan Region are another example of reckless attempts to inflame tensions and threaten Iraq’s stability,” said the special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for Iraq.

“We condemn these acts of violence and urge the Federal and Kurdistan governments to act swiftly and in unison to prevent further escalation,” she said in a tweet.

Shortly before the attack in Erbil, a rocket landed inside a base to the west of the city that hosts Turkish forces and another rocket fell inside a village near the base.

Turkey’s defense ministry said a Turkish soldier was killed in the rocket attack on the base. A woman was also killed in the village, Iraqi media cited security sources as saying.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered on Thursday an “immediate investigation” into the attacks on Erbil airport and the base in Bashiqa.

Spokesman of the U.S. State Department Ned Price said early on Thursday that the United States was “outraged” by the attacks in Iraq.

“The Iraqi people have suffered for far too long from this kind of violence and violation of their sovereignty,” Price said in a tweet.

Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and the Kurdistan Region presidency condemned the attacks in Erbil and Bashiqa.

Barzani said it was a “blatant attempt” to undermine the Kurdistan Region’s security and that any armed groups which are not operating within the official Iraqi security forces “must be thrown” from the Region’s border.

“Over the coming days, I will hold talks with Iraqi and international partners on practical ways to make this happen,” he said in a statement.

The Kurdistan Region presidency, separately, said the attacks would further complicate the situation in Iraq.

“The repetition of these attacks requires serious efforts, and the Kurdistan Region and the federal government backed by the international coalition should increase cooperation and assistance to confront those groups behind these attacks,” it said in a statement.

The Iran-backed militias oppose both the presence of the United States and Turkey and demand a full withdrawal of all foreign troops.

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