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04/26/2021 Iraq (International Christian Concern) –  A Turkish soldier was killed at a remote military base just outside of Mosul by a supposed Iranian-backed militia airstrike in early April. The base is reportedly relatively secretive, and the attack showcases the intra-governmental conflict going on inside Iraq.

The death of a Turkish soldier in Iraq is often utilized to justify increased militarization in the region. Turkey’s proclaimed justification for its presence since the 1990s is the fight against the PKK, a widely recognized terrorist group though recently removed from the U.S. designation list. However, its presence and targeted airstrikes routinely fall outside known PKK territory. Iranian-Turkish tensions inside Iraq have flared in the past few months as Iran maintains that Turkey is overstepping in Iraq and should remove its presence.

Sinjar is one region where these tensions are evident. Turkey has threatened to invade the area for several years, claiming the widespread PKK presence. Sinjar is home to minorities including Yazidis and Christians who have suffered from Turkish airstrikes in recent years, often facing displacement or forced to live in inhospitable conditions. Iranian-backed militia group PMU sent several brigades to Sinjar to thwart Turkish invasion.

The foreign interference from Turkey and Iran does little to soothe the country’s Christians and other minorities’ fears about their future in Iraq. Both Turkey and Iran are notorious persecutors of Christians and minorities inside their respective countries, and in Turkey’s case often target Christians inside Iraq as well using alternative motives.

The complex airstrike and its relations are not the only recent attack in Iraq. Airstrikes in Erbil and to U.S. bases also occurred in the last month. Though not religiously motivated in nature, the unstable military situation in Iraq discourages returning Christians who are still traumatized by the years of ISIS persecution and fighting.

For interviews, please contact Alison Garcia: [email protected].