Christian villagers flee from Turkish cross-border attacks into Kurdistan Region

On Tuesday, villagers fled as the Turkish military launched yet another series of bombardments over the border into the Kurdistan Region, claiming nearby detection of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions.
author_image Kurdistan 24

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Tuesday, villagers fled as the Turkish military launched yet another series of bombardments over the border into the Kurdistan Region, claiming nearby detection of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions.

The strikes hit the outskirts of Meruk, Ribatka, and Belmand, three Christian villages in Amadiya (Amedi) district of Duhok Province, local resident Tuma William told Kurdistan 24.

He explained that the community living closest to the areas targeted, along with others from neighboring villages, had fled the area in fear of additional attacks. There have been no casualties reported.

Meruk village, near the town of Chamanke, is located in mountainous border regions of Duhok Province. According to the villagers, few families have remained out of fear of being injured or killed by ongoing Turkish air strikes close to their homes.

Turkey has routinely shelled and otherwise attacked areas well past its borders and into the Kurdistan Region in past months and years, killing many civilians about whom there are no claims of PKK affiliation.

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. 

In June, Andreus Tuma, an elderly villager in Meruk stood in his yard, expressing sorrow at the decision made by so many of his neighbors to leave their homes.

“To be honest with you, it [bombardment] has affected us a great deal. We are very scared. Our areas are damaged and our walls are broken,” Tuma told Kurdistan 24.

“People are evacuating. One of my neighbors went to Duhok [city] and the other went to Mosul. Many families have left. We are obliged to stay because we have no other homes. Otherwise, we would not have been here in the first place.”

In late March, Turkish media claimed that in one Turkish cross-border attack, warplanes wounded a senior PKK member and killed three other high-ranking members. 

According to one report by the Anadolu Agency, the Turkish military targeted a vehicle that was carrying all four of the purported casualties which it named as Raza Altun, a leadership member of the PKK superset Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), a spokesperson, a foreign affairs officer, and a head commander in Kurdistan's Qandil Mountains, where the group is headquartered.

PKK affiliated media outlets did not corroborate the statement.  

Editing by John J. Catherine