ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Region villagers who live near the border with Iran have experienced severe losses due to Iran’s recent shelling of their areas, locals said on Wednesday.
The Iranian attacks have taken a massive toll on the livelihoods of residents in the border areas who are mostly dependent on farming and livestock as their primary source of income.
Last week, Iranian troops directed their fire at these areas during a two-day operation in response to an increased number of clashes between the country’s security forces and fighters from opposition groups that have bases at locations that were targeted.
On July 10, shells struck a civilian home, killing a teenage girl and wounding two of her brothers. The casualties caused immediate condemnation by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), both about Tehran’s shelling and the fighters’ use of the Kurdistan Region’s territory as a launchpad to attack Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
The rates of incidents have rendered a large area unusable for farming, with over 620 acres of agricultural lands in the first half of 2019 having been reduced to ashes. Migrating shepherds also fear for their lives and have deterred from using the said area for grazing their cattle and sheep.
The ongoing bombardment also caused the evacuation of five villages in the sub-district of Sidakan, with the risk of evacuating another 20 villages due to fear of being targeted.
Kirmanj Izaat, mayor of Soran district, told Kurdistan 24 that Iran “is responsible for compensating any damage caused by their attacks.”
Iranian artillery fire has been a regular occurrence on the Kurdistan Region’s border areas over the past several years, especially during the spring and summer months crucial to local agriculture, though Iran claims it only targets Iranian Kurdish opposition fighters.
The KRG has called on the Iranian government to put an end to indiscriminate shelling of areas near the Kurdish border in the past and asked Iranian Kurdish fighters to avoid using the region to attack its neighboring state.
On the Iranian border, villages were abandoned in Haji Omaran in the summer months as border guards warned they would establish a two-kilometer-wide, 10-kilometer-long security perimeter and open fire on those who refused to leave.
Due to similar attacks by Turkey, targeting fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), hundreds of villages along the Turkey-Kurdistan border have been evacuated due to the ongoing violence.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Kosar Nawzad contributed to this report; additional reporting by Tayfur Mohammed)