Turkey partially permits flights to Iraqi Kurd region

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (C) answers questions possed by the press following Friday prayer in the Cebeci district of Ankara on March 23, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 24 March 2018

Turkey partially permits flights to Iraqi Kurd region

ANKARA: Turkey’s prime minister said Friday his country was partially reopening its airspace to flights to Iraq’s Kurdish region, after the central government restored authority at airports in the area.
Binali Yildirim said the airspace would be open to commercial and civilian flights to and from the city of Irbil but flights to the city of Sulaimaniyah would not be permitted. He cited security concerns stemming from alleged Kurdish rebel activity targeting Turkey from the Sulaimaniyah region.
“There will be no flight to Sulaimaniyah whatsoever,” Yildirim told reporters in Ankara.
Turkey has shut down its airspace to flights to the Kurdish region following a controversial referendum vote in northern Iraq’s self-ruled Kurdish region six months ago that overwhelmingly backed independence from Baghdad.
The referendum was vehemently rejected by Baghdad, Turkey and Iraq’s other neighbors, ratcheting up tensions in the region.
The Turkish prime minister also said that his country would press ahead with military strikes against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq as long as threats to Turkey continue.
Earlier, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry condemned Turkey’s attacks on what Ankara suspected were Kurdish rebel camps in northern Iraq, along the countries’ shared border. The state-run Anadolu Agency said nine militants were “neutralized” in an operation on Thursday.
The Iraqi ministry described the attacks as “violations” that led to the death of a number of civilians in a statement released late Thursday.
Turkey said this week its military may mount an offensive against the PKK in Iraq’s Sinjar region if the Iraqi government doesn’t act against the group.


Hezbollah says 2 Israeli drones downed in south Beirut

Updated 25 August 2019

Hezbollah says 2 Israeli drones downed in south Beirut

  • Israelii jets earlier attacked targets near Syria’s capital of Damascus to pre-empt an alleged Iranian drone attack plot

BEIRUT: A Hezbollah official said Sunday that an Israeli drone went down over the Lebanese capital of Beirut and another exploded in the air, amid regional tensions between Israel and Iran.
Residents of the Iranian-backed group’s stronghold in southern Beirut reported one large explosion that shook the area early Sunday, triggering a fire. They said the nature of the blast in the Moawwad neighborhood was not immediately clear, but said it might have been caused by an Israeli drone that went down in the area amid Israeli air activity in neighboring Syria.
They said they heard an aircraft flying just before the blast and reported later that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group sealed off the area. The blast occurred near the militant group’s media office in the Moawwad district.
The Hezbollah official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity as the person was not authorized to speak on the record to journalists. No details were immediately available.
Israeli warplanes fly over Lebanon regularly and have struck inside neighboring Syria from Lebanese airspace on numerous occasions.
A few hours earlier, late Saturday, the Israeli military attacked targets near Syria’s capital of Damascus in what it said was a successful effort to thwart an imminent Iranian drone strike on Israel, stepping up an already heightened campaign against Iranian military activity in the region.
The late-night airstrike, which triggered Syrian anti-aircraft fire, appeared to be one of the most intense attacks by Israeli forces in several years of hits on Iranian targets in Syria.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Al Quds force, working with allied Shiite militias, had been planning to send a number of explosives-laden attack drones into Israel.
On Twitter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack by Israeli warplanes a “major operational effort.”
Syrian state TV said the country’s air defenses had responded to “hostile” targets over Damascus and shot down incoming missiles before they reached their targets.
In recent days, US officials have said that Israeli strikes have also hit Iranian targets in Iraq.