WATCH: Fires erupt in Kurdistan’s Soran area after Turkish bombardments
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish bombardments on Sunday caused huge fires in mountainous areas in northern parts of the Kurdistan Region, in the latest bout of attacks that Ankara says is targeting the strongholds of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) at the border areas.
The shelling took place in Erbil province areas near the Turkish border and did not cause any casualties, according to early reporting. The attack and the fires that ensued, however, caused panic among civilians living in nearby villages, local sources told Kurdistan 24.
Eyewitnesses from the area told Kurdistan 24 that the incident occurred near the villages of Siran and Meragarsh in Bradost, located in Erbil's Soran district.
Sources said that firefighters are attempting to put out the fires that have followed the attack, but the teams are facing difficulties reaching the affected areas due to the rugged and rough nature of the terrain.
The fire has reportedly reached the vicinity of the village of Kanirish, leaving residents fearful for their safety. Firefighting teams also struggled to arrive at the small rural settlement to assist with putting out the blaze. The fires were ongoing as of Sunday noon local time.
This is not the first time that Turkish attacks in the Kurdistan Region have caused fires. Dozens of such incidents have occurred in recent years, resulting in significant material damages to the properties and farms of residents of areas close to outposts held by the PKK.
Turkish clashes with and shelling of outposts of PKK fighters have often resulted in civilian casualties in border villages as well. In one recent incident just over a week ago, Ankara warplanes killed two members of the same family in a village in Duhok province's Amedi district.
Days earlier, an armed exchange between PKK fighters and Turkish forces wounded a 13-year-old girl in another rural community living near the Turkish border in Duhok province.
The PKK is engaged in a decades-long insurgency against Turkey over Kurdish rights and self-rule in a conflict that has resulted in the death of over 40,000 people on both sides. Ankara, along with Washington, the EU, and NATO, designates the PKK as a terrorist organization.
Turkish military operations inside the Kurdistan Region's Qandil Mountains and other sprawling areas near the borders of Turkey and Iran have become commonplace since the peace process between the PKK and Ankara collapsed in 2015.
A recent analysis by the US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) concluded that 77 percent of all engagements between Ankara and the armed group has "taken place in Iraq," referring mostly to the autonomous Kurdistan Region.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has 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.
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Tayfour Muhammad)