Turkish invasion: NGO warns of wave of displacement in South Kurdistan

As a result of Turkish occupation operations, parts of the Kurdistan region of Iraq could soon experience a major wave of displacement. A Christian peace initiative speaks of around 600 villages that are at acute risk of depopulation.

Turkey is penetrating ever deeper into the territory of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). According to information from the local NGO Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT) on Sunday, the Turkish occupation offensive "Operation Claw Lock", which was expanded to parts of the Amêdî district in mid-June, now reaches fifteen kilometers deep into the country.

In the previous "Operation Claw Lightning and Thunderbolt", which lasted from April 2021 to April 2022, occupation troops had only advanced seven kilometers into the region and had established themselves in the village of Hiror (Hrure) because the front of the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) could not be broken through. In order to overcome this, the Turkish army is now strengthening its more than 70 military bases in the KRI, which are operating in violation of international law, and is building seven new bases that are concentrated in the Kanî Masî sub-district in Barwarî Bala, which belongs to Amêdî. The population of several villages has already been displaced in recent weeks as a result of this military violence in the southern Kurdish border region, and other villages are now threatened with the same fate - with the approval of the Barzani party KDP, which is allied with Turkey.

600 villages threatened with evacuation

At least 602 villages in the Kurdistan region of Iraq are currently threatened with violent evacuation as a result of Turkish expansionism. This figure was also confirmed by CPT, which named 162 villages whose populations have already been displaced since the start of the Turkish "claw operations" in early summer 2020. In order to achieve the long-term goal of destroying the autonomous status of the Kurdistan region and securing Turkey's control over strategically important areas in northern Iraq, in addition to permanent bombings of guerrilla areas, the Turkish army is also carrying out targeted attacks on civilian settlements - under the guise of border security and an alleged "terrorist threat" to Ankara.

In the past three weeks alone, according to the CPT report, the Turkish army has carried out at least 238 bombings on settlements, primarily in the Duhok governorate. As a result of these attacks, more than 2,000 hectares of agricultural land burned, especially in the villages of Amêdî. In the town of Sergelê alone, around 55 percent of all cultivated and cultivated land for agricultural products and forest areas have now fallen victim to the Turkish scorched earth policy.

Eight civilians killed in 2024

The more than 230 attacks in recent weeks are part of at least 1,076 bombings by the Turkish military recorded by the Community Peacemaker Teams between January and July in residential areas throughout the KRI. Almost fifty percent of these attacks were directed against targets in Duhok, where the Amêdî district is also located. Just over 400 attacks affected regions in Hewlêr (Erbil), Turkish bombs fell 135 times in the greater Sulaymaniyah (Silêmanî) area and over 90 percent of all attacks were carried out by fighter jets. According to the CPT data available, eight civilians have been killed since the beginning of the year as a result of Turkish military violence, and dozens more have been injured. In addition, large parts of the civilian infrastructure in the affected areas have been destroyed or extensively damaged.

Monastery bombed, school destroyed

At the end of February, fighter planes bombed a school in the village of Mizê (Mizhe) to rubble. In the village of Miska, which, like Mizê, belongs to Amêdî, flying killing machines damaged an Assyrian monastery just about a week ago. And in nearby Guherzê (Guharz), occupiers recently fired their artillery shells at three houses and a car on two consecutive evenings.

"Community Peacemaker Teams is highly concerned about this escalation of Turkish military operations and its harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure. CPT fears that if the operations continue, hundreds of families will be displaced," the CPT report said.

Photo by CPT