Turkish Airstrikes in Iraq Disproportionately Affect Villagers

06/12/2021 Iraq (International Christian Concern) –  Turkish airstrikes in Iraq are currently at an all-time high since a ceasefire broke down in 2015 with the PKK. Turkey and the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party widely acknowledged as a terrorist group, have engaged in clashes since 1984. The bombing of northern Iraq has occurred since PKK operations were moved to the Qandil mountains in 1998. Now, remote villages, Assyrians and refugee camps suffer at the hands of Turkish airstrikes.

Homes forcibly evacuated in Dohuk have been looted and damaged, while natives are forced to reside away from their homeland due to airstrikes. The village of Roisy has been vacant of its normal tenets since December when the village’s 18 families fled for safer territory. Since then, four Turkish military bases have been erected within close proximity to the village. A few Roisy villagers snuck home to visit and discovered that the whole village had been looted. Doors were smashed open, personal belongings were ransacked and anything beneficial was taken. Soryana, located just south of Roisy, also has depleted since the increase in fighting. In 2020, 15 families lived there. Now only five families remain. Less than half of Zergely village’s original inhabitants remain.

Villages in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq are constantly under shelling. Many families have fled the region, no longer able to have livestock livelihoods because of safety concerns. The area is littered with visible craters, burned trees and destroyed vehicles from airstrikes. Livelihoods are lost, historical land has been forcibly abandoned, and the landscape is badly scarred.

Makhmour camp, some 180 kilometers from the Turkish border, farther than most other PKK-related operations, faced Turkish airstrikes on June 5. Three people were killed and more were injured at the camp for displaced people. The strike came three days after Turkish President Erdogan warned that Turkey would “clean up” a refugee camp that he claimed provided a haven for Kurdish militants. The camp has been in operation since the 1990s when Kurds fled Turkey.

More than 500 villages have been emptied across the Kurdistan region since 1998. Since Turkey’s most recent operations, Operations Claw-Lighting and Claw Thunderbolt launched in April, 1,500 people have been displaced from 22 villages. Accusations against Turkey have been made for using chemical weapons 13 times.

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