ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - Turkish bombardment targeting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in the Kurdistan Region’s border areas continues, damaging local infrastructure and spreading fear among residents.
Turkey has intensified the campaign over the past few weeks, bombing as far as 20 kilometers within the region in some areas, primarily in Sidakan and Mergasor, located on the triangle border of the Kurdistan Region, Turkey, and Iran.
Sidikan Mayor Ihsan Chalabi told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday that airstrikes had just destroyed a local bridge in the village of Kawart.
The bridge is not close to where villagers live,” said Chalabi, but added, “Turkish jets have bombarded 8 to 12 PKK targets in the region, some of which are close to populated areas.”
“The airstrikes and military presence of Turkish troops there have affected transportation and daily life of villagers,” he said, adding that Turkish forces have built a 17-kilometer long military access road inside the Kurdistan Region, from a point near Mawana village to Kitakin Mountain.
Kawart Bridge is the second to be destroyed by the Turkish bombardment in one week, following another being targeted in the same village on March 28.
Sidakan is located on the border of the Kurdistan Region's province of Erbil and the two neighboring countries. It contains some 115 villages, many of which have been evacuated due to the ongoing airstrikes.
Residents have also posted photos on social media in recent days of what they claim are Turkish military outposts built atop mountains within the Kurdistan Region.
Areas with civilian populations that have been bombarded over the past few days include Khwakurk, Kania Rash, Barmiza, Heshman, and Barazgir, according to a Kurdistan 24 correspondent in the area.
Both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq have condemned the bombing in past weeks, especially those that killed four civilians camping in the mountains of Choman district as part of their celebration of Newroz, the Kurdish New Year.
In recent years, KRG has also repeatedly told Ankara to cease airstrikes within the Kurdistan Region and has been critical of the PKK for using its territory as a base from which to conduct operations within Turkey.
“Why has Turkey crossed the border [of the Kurdistan Region]? What is the reason? There is a reason,” Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said during a March 28 press conference.
“The Kurdistan Region has a principle. The Region in no way would allow its soil to be used to attack or make conflict with neighboring countries. This principle includes attacks on Turkey, Iran, Syria or any other countries,” he stated, referring to the PKK.
“It is very unfortunate," Barzani added. "We have tried and told the PKK, 'You cannot use the Kurdistan Region’s soil to launch military attacks on Turkey and then return to Kurdistan.' It doesn’t make sense, and we have asked them several times to stop it."
Turkey views the PKK as a ‘terrorist’ organization. Their fighters, now headquartered in the Qandil Mountains, have been fighting an almost four-decade-long insurgency against Ankara which has resulted in over 40,000 casualties on both sides.
Editing by John J. Catherine