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Exclusive - Panic Rocks Kurds in Qandil Mountains over Incessant Turkey, Iran Attacks

Exclusive - Panic Rocks Kurds in Qandil Mountains over Incessant Turkey, Iran Attacks

Saturday, 24 August, 2019 - 06:45
A fence surrounds a PKK camp in the Qandil Mountains. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Qandil Mountains – Ihsan Aziz

Residents in over 20 Kurdish villages wedged between Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish borders have been living in a state of total horror and panic.

Kurds in that region have been chased down by a series of semi-nonstop Turkish airstrikes coupled with intermittent Iranian artillery shelling that have been taking out targets in the eastern plains of the Qandil Mountains since fall 2018.

Arbitrary strikes launched by Turkish warplanes on August 19, for example, severely injured four farmers who were harvesting crops at Pauli village. Large swathes of farmland filled with a variety of fruit-bearing groves were grazed to the ground.

The very same raids uprooted villagers, who fled in fear of violence, in seven neighboring communities.

Ahmed Nour, 45, reported great damage to his house.

“Turkish fighter jets keep buzzing in the skies. Targets and any movements in our villages are fired at indiscriminately. Their vengeful strikes are destroying our farmlands and have forced villagers to flee,” Nour told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Responding to Turkish claims about Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members being hosted by Kurdish villages in the Qandil Mountains, he said: “We are farmers and our only sources of living are the crops and fields we have worked hard to grow over the last years… We have nothing to do with political parties.”

“Our villages have no armed presence, whether it is the PKK or Iranian opposition parties. Despite that, Turkish jets target our homes and fields, most of which have been burned to the ground,” Nour added.

Targeted Kurds, facing escalatory Turkish and Iranian violence, have turned to blaming regional sovereign authorities for their inaction as their homes get leveled by fierce attacks.

Soran Rasoul, 26, a livestock keeper, said: “We hold the authorities in Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region responsible for our tragic situation, because they do not take any deterring action against Turkey’s hostility.”

Strongly rebuffing Ankara’s claims on PKK militias being present in the villages, he noted that “sovereign states should protect their citizens and territories when subjected to humiliating attacks, such as those being committed by Turkey on a near daily basis.”

“Only one or two members of each family have stayed behind to safeguard our property and fields, while Baghdad and Erbil are standing idle.”

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