Turkish bombing causes population in Kurdistan Region border villages to dwindle

Turkish jets bombarded areas inside the Kurdistan Region's district of Soran on Saturday in continued attacks targeting fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a local official told Kurdistan 24.
author_image Hiwa Shilani

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish jets bombarded areas inside the Kurdistan Region's district of Soran on Saturday in continued attacks targeting fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a local official told Kurdistan 24.

According to Ehsan Chalabi, the Mayor of Sidakan, this creates great hardship for those living nearby.

“As hundreds of villages along the Turkish-Kurdistan border have been evacuated due to the ongoing violence, the only reason the remaining villages are suffering through this is that we don’t want to leave our homes and let [the area] become uninhabited,” he said.   

Such attacks have led to the evacuation of many villagers from the Kurdistan Region as Ankara’s warplanes continue to damage residential and agricultural lands, and, on occasion, kill civilian bystanders about whom there are no claims of PKK affiliation. Aggrieved locals have long urged both sides to take their conflict elsewhere.

The PKK has been engaged in a decades-long insurgency against Turkey over Kurdish rights and self-rule. Turkey, the United States, and the European Union all designate it as a “terrorist” group. 

Saturday's attacks took place nearly 30 km within the Kurdistan Region. So far, no casualties have been reported.  

Regular attacks by the Turkish military have forced 115 out of 263 villages in Erbil province's Soran district to be evacuated, with the people either relocated to the city or other neighboring villages. 

“We tried opening camps and temporary shelters, but that will lead to the loss of the villages as the people tend to not return,“ added Chalabi.  

Aside from the threat to residents' safety, life in the remaining sparsely-populated villages comes with a constant threat to the property, agriculture, and livestock of the people living there. 

In late April, Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu met with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed al-Hakim to discuss a range of issues, including “border security” between the two countries. 

Editing by John J. Catherine