Coalition Against Chemical Weapons in Kurdistan demands immediate ceasefire in Iraqi Kurdistan

The Coalition Against Chemical Weapons in Kurdistan demanded an immediate ceasefire in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Coalition Against Chemical Weapons in Kurdistan was formed by Peace in Kurdistan, the Defend Kurdistan Initiative and CAMPACC in response to alleged attacks by Turkey in Iraqi Kurdistan. 

The Coalition issued a statement to condemn Turkey’s armed forces that launched Operation Claw Lock on 17 April. "It is Turkey's latest illegal invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan. It saw helicopters, drones and jets pummel the Metina mountain area in the border area of Duhok province", says the Coalition, adding: "While Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar claimed the offensive was targeting the bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), scores of Kurdish villages were bombed." 

The statement added: "So far, attempts to land troops have been repelled, although peshmerga forces and Turkish commandos are believed to have been involved in fighting on the ground with operations launched from inside Kurdish territory. 

It is known that Turkey has an extensive network of more than 80 military bases and a military airport from where it launches deadly drone strikes. The installations are linked by roads to facilitate the movement of weapons and soldiers and the plunder of the region's natural resources."

The statement continued: "The assault, which PKK intelligence warned about in March, was carried out in coordination with the regionally dominant Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), beginning days after Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul.

Barzani is now in London where he seeks support for bilateral trade deals, in particular oil and gas plundered from the region in a deal with Turkey described as crooked by the Kurds that live in abject poverty under his rule. 

Turkey’s war on Kurds started in April last year with allegations of war crimes, including the bombing of the UN-administered Makhmour refugee camp, a Yazidi hospital in Shengal and more than 300 chemical attacks. 

Civilians have been targeted by Turkish jets with almost daily bombardments, causing nearly 2,000 to flee their homes. Politicians have been subjected to extra-judicial executions in drone strikes and gunned down on the street near their homes. 

This has been carried out with the complicity of the international community including the UN, European Union and Nato, of which Turkey is a member state. Turkey’s attempted genocide of the Kurdish people has been carried out with arms sold by western nations." 

The Coalition Against Chemical Weapons in Kurdistan called for the "immediate suspension of relations with Turkey and for an end to arms sales. The international community must demand an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Turkish forces from Kurdish land and Iraqi sovereign territory. 

Investigations into alleged war crimes must be opened as a matter of urgency and we call on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons send a fact-finding team to the region."

The Coalition demanded "the British government refuse to sign any deals with the Kurdistan Regional Government while it continues to collude with the Turkish state against its own people. 

We urge it to issue an immediate statement condemning Turkey’s illegal military invasion and the collusion of the KDP. No deal should be signed with Barzani while Turkey’s bombing campaign and ground invasion continues." 

Speaking on behalf of the coalition spokesman, Steve Sweeney, the only westerner to have visited the affected areas said:  “Turkey has been bombarding Iraqi Kurdistan for almost a year to global silence. The majority of the victims have been ordinary Kurdish villagers, terrorised by Turkish soldiers, their lives blighted by daily bombings from jets and missiles sold by the west. The victims of the attacks are suffering long term physical and mental health issues, while those that raise concerns are threatened by their own government. While the west continues to court Erdogan, who is pitching himself as a peacemaker in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Kurds are being killed and thousands displaced at his behest."

Sweeney added: “The only involvement he should have on an international stage is in a courtroom in The Hague facing war crimes charges. Britain and the rest of the international community can bring the war on Kurds to an end in an instant if it chooses to do so. It must end arms sales immediately and end relations with Turkey until the last boot of the last Turkish soldier leaves Kurdish land. There is no military solution, only a political one. That means a negotiated peaceful settlement and the resumption of dialogue between the Turkish state and Kurdish representatives.”