Turkey blames PKK for drone attack that shuts airport in Kurdish region

Soldiers guard a checkpoint close to provincial capital Diyarbakir. (AFP/File Photo)
Soldiers guard a checkpoint close to provincial capital Diyarbakir. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 25 May 2021

Turkey blames PKK for drone attack that shuts airport in Kurdish region

Soldiers guard a checkpoint close to provincial capital Diyarbakir. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Diyarbakir Airport, which serves both civilian and military users, is the airlink for the biggest city in the Kurdish region
  • Officials in the region said fighter jets shot down two drones and claimed there was no damage

LONDON: The largest airport in the Kurdish-majority region of Turkey has been forced to close for repairs after it was hit by a drone attack last week, which Ankara has blamed on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Diyarbakir Airport, which serves both civilian and military users, is the airlink for the biggest city in the Kurdish region and will be closed for a month while work is carried out on its runway.

It was struck by drones last Wednesday, in an attack Turkey suspects was carried out by militants from the PKK.

Officials in the region said fighter jets shot down two drones and claimed there was no damage caused by the strike, however witnesses reported seeing smoke rising from the base soon afterwards.

Turkey has become a major manufacturer of drones in recent years, led by the defense firm Baykar, which is owned by the family of Selcuk Bayraktar — President Recep Erdogan’s son-in-law.

Turkish drones have been used most recently in the Libyan conflict, by Azeri forces in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and by Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed militias in Donbass.

NATO member Poland has also purchased Turkish drones, but fellow member Canada has placed an arms embargo on them following attacks on Syrian Kurds and their use in the Nagorno-Karabakh war.

Experts believe that the battle between Turkey and the PKK could accelerate if the Kurdish group has adopted the Turkish technology, The Times reported.

The PKK has been fighting Turkish security forces in Diyarbakir and surrounding cities for decades, and some 5,300 people have been killed in the region since peace negotiations broke down in 2015.