🔴 A leading Kurdish drone engineer was targeted and killed in Monday's drone strike on Arbat Airport, Sulaymaniyah (Silêmanî), Iraqi Kurdistan.#DroneStrike | #TurkeyAttacks | #ArbatAirporthttps://t.co/EGtt24DOrH pic.twitter.com/SKyMvsf5pv
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It is likely that the main target of Monday’s drone attack on Arbat Airport in Sulaymaniyah (Silêmanî), Iraqi Kurdistan, was one of the most experienced drone manufacturers and operators in the region, reports Diplomatic, an independent digital media network in the Kurdistan Region.
Raber Anwar, a 38-year-old engineer with a passion for building and operating drones, was among the three peshmergas of the Kurdistan Counter-Terrorism Group (CTG) killed in the attack. According to Diplomatic, Anwar’s aspirations were reminiscent of Selçuk Bayraktar, the renowned creator of Turkey’s domestically produced drones, and Anwar could potentially have become the “Bayraktar of Kurdistan” if he had had the opportunity to continue his work.
Anwar devoted to drone technology since 2018, was a co-founder of the Kurdistan Drone Association. Even after joining the anti-terrorist unit, he continued to apply his expertise in the military domain. Diplomatic suggests that this dedication to drone technology might have made him a target of the attack, especially since he was himself killed, and two of his colleagues sustained serious injuries in the incident.
Arbat Airport, which was targeted in the attack, has reportedly been used by anti-terror units under the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). According to information provided to Voice of America by officials from the American Community Peacemaker Teams in Iraq, at the time of the incident, anti-terror units of both the PUK and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were present at the airport. Notably, the Syrian Kurdish unit had arrived just 20 minutes before the attack.
Official Iraqi sources confirmed the deaths of three peshmergas in the attack, but Diplomatic reported a higher toll, claiming that nine people had lost their lives, and another 14 had been wounded. The entire airport building was destroyed, as well as a helicopter belonging to Sulaymaniyah Counter-Terrorism Group. Previously, Turkey’s MIT (National Intelligence Agency) had alleged that weapons were being transferred from Arbat Airport to northern Syria via helicopter.
The Sulaymaniyah attack has drawn sharp condemnation from both the Iraqi Kurdish and federal administrations, with successive harsh statements from each denouncing the incident. Both the PUK leader and the Counter-Terrorism Group implicitly emphasised the possibility of internal betrayal, and vowed revenge.
According to Diplomatic’s sources, Syrian Kurdish fighters injured in the attack were transported to North and East Syria.
Observers speculate that the attack on Arbat Airport is part of a broader threat framework. The airport, originally used for agricultural purposes, has recently become a hub for Sulaymaniyah Counter-Terrorism units, and it is believed that relations with Syrian Kurds were being promoted through this facility. The Turkish government has recently justified its previous attacks based on these alleged connections.