AKR: Turkish and Iranian bombardments on Iraqi Kurdistan destroy more villages


Alliance for Kurdish Rights (AKR) is concerned for the well-being and safety of civilians in the Kurdistan Federal Region in Iraq after months of heavy bombardments by the Turkish and Iranian militaries. On May 4th, 2008, the LA Times reported the destruction of another border village town, Rezga, as a result of cross-border airstrikes and artillery by the Turkish military.

An estimated 200 families are living in tents 35 miles outside of Rezga in dire and unsafe living conditions as a result of the bombardments. These families have no where to go and are unable to return to their villages despite the fact that they have no involvement in the conflict between the Turkish military and Kurdish rebels.

Owaz Jamal, a mother and former resident of Rezga, told the LA Times, “Having our homes destroyed, and being on the run, has become part of our lives.”

On May 20th, 2008, the Agence France-Presse reported that over 20 villages in the Bashdar region northeast of Silemani have been bombed by the Iranian military. As a result of these bombardments, over 120 families have been forced to leave their homes.

According to a statement released through Voices of Iraq (VOI), “Rizka, Mardo, Shinawa, Sorkola, Sordi, Arka, Basta, Toutmi, were the most targeted villages in the Qandeel Mountains.” Villages have reportedly been bombed by the Iranian and Turkish militaries without any prior proper warnings for civilians to evacuate the regions.

The report also says that the number of civilian casualties are unknown. This is likely due to the fact that proper investigations have been crippled by a media embargo reportedly placed against the region by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). According to several reports beginning last November (2007), most notably from Reuters, the KRG banned journalists from entering the region after claiming that the media had been “aggravating the crisis with Turkey.”

Unfortunately, these actions have not only failed to reduce the bombings against the region but they have also allowed the Iranian and Turkish militaries to carry out their operations without any accountability for civilian casualties.

Despite such conditions, the United Nations and members of the International Community have failed to take any proper action to stop the bombardments. According to several reports, the Kurdistan Regional Government has taken some steps by asking the United Nations to help stop the bombing of border villages. So far, there has been no signal of a response by the U.N. regarding these events.

Ahmed, Asso. “Kurds dispute toll in Turkey’s airstrikes in Iraq.” LA Times. 4 May 08. Accessed: 29 May 08.

Aqrawi, Shamal. “Iraq’s Kurdistan bans media from going to PKK bases.” Reuters. 19 Nov 07. Accessed 29 May 08.

“Iran shells border villages in Kurdistan”. Agence France-Presse (AFP). 20 May 08. Accessed: 29 May 08.

“Iraqi Kurd leader calls for end to bombing.” United Press International. 20 May 08. Accessed: 29 May 08.