Iraq, Turkish forces attack instilled fear among civilians

A bomb exploding in southern Iraq A bomb exploding in southern Iraq Photo by Ghulam Hussain on iStock

24 August 2021

Turkey bombed Kurdish Workers' Party installations in Kurdistan and destroyed  shelters, instilling fear and terror among the local inhabitants and farmers. 

According to statements made by the Turkish Ministry of National Defence, the Turkish military bombed alleged hideouts of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) in Iraqi Kurdistan on July 24th hitting weapons depots, shelters, headquarters, and caves. The strike was carried out by about 20 aircraft that hit 28 different targets in the Asos mountain range along the Iranian border, and represents another attempt by Turkey to expand its operations in the region, having pushed 200 km deep into Iraqi Territory. Zana Rahman, the mayor of Penjwin, a district near the area of the attack, confirmed the details of  the strike. Speaking to Rudaw, a local news organisation, he said that Turkish drones began operating at 6:30 am for approximately 20 minutes without inflicting significant damage, although instilling fear and terror among the local inhabitants and farmers. 

Hostilities between the Turkish security forces and the PKK, recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, as well as the EU and the US, resumed in 2015 when a ceasefire that lasted more than two years was broken. This event marked the beginning of acts of violence perpetrated against the majority Kurdish communities in south-eastern Turkey, and even affected the large metropolitan centres of the country. The fighting then shifted to rural centers starting in the second half of 2016, following clashes in some urban districts in the south-eastern parts of the country. The week preceding the strikes in the Asos mountains Turkey also launched attacks targeting the Sinjar resistance unit (YBS), a Yazida militia, which maintains close relations with the PKK. A militia leader was the victim of the attack, which was followed by another on a makeshift clinic set up to provide medical assistance to YBS military units. In the course of these events, eight people died, including four civilians. According to Ankara, the country has also engaged in several air operations against Syrian Kurdish fighters, which it says are connected to the PKK.

These most recent strikes are not the first time Turkish forces have carried out attacks in the province of Sulaimaniyah, in which Asos is located; however, their main activities have been concentrated along the mountainous areas bordering Turkey and the Iraqi Bradost region. The Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Governments have called upon Turkey to stop its strikes, while also urging the PKK to avoid using Iraqi territory to attack Turkish forces, puttinng at risk the lives of civilians. The occasional intervention of Western countries has to date done little to discourage Ankara’s operations.



Turkey strikes PKK targets in Iraq's Kurdistan region - Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East

Turchia: colpiti 28 obiettivi del PKK nel Nord dell’Iraq | Sicurezza internazionale | LUISS

Turkey’s PKK Conflict: A Visual Explainer | Crisis Group


Author: Sara Taherzadeh; Editor: Maxime Grenier

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