Iraqi Kurdistan Prime Minister Barzani: Rocket attack on US base in Erbil “definitive terrorist attack”

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Masrour Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, said the rocket attack on 15 February 2021 against a US air base in the Kurdish capital Erbil that claimed several lives was “definitely a terrorist attack”, and that a preliminary investigation into the question has given “a good indication of who was behind it”.

Barzani said the probe has made good progress, but declined to provide further information pending the final results of the investigation.

Barzani, interviewed by Marc Perelman, FRANCE 24, also reiterated the continuing threat posed by the IS group in the region. “ISIS is being reorganized as we speak,” he said, referring to the militant group with a different acronym.

According to Barzani, the IS group is using a security vacuum in the disputed area between the Kurdistan region and the central government in Baghdad. “They have succeeded in recruiting more people and have carried out operations against Iraqi security forces, and in some cases also against civilians. So ISIS is still a major problem. ”

He said that the international community must therefore keep an eye on the development of the IS group.

During the interview, Barzani also spoke about Turkey’s banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and said that it was the fault of a large Turkish military course in the region by provoking retaliation from Ankara. Asked if he would accept a Turkish “safe zone” in his region – such as those created by Turkey in neighboring Syria – he said he would rather ensure a peaceful solution once and for all.

Finally, he described the pope’s visit to the region next week as “historic” and said it was a tribute not only to Christians in the area but also to peaceful coexistence in the Kurdistan region. Barzani hopes that the visit will lead to more international support for refugees and those who have been internally displaced in the area.