Rushing alongside his two-year-old son, five-year-old daughter and wife, Azad Khalid fled his village in Zakho District in northwestern Dohuk Governorate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq after three rockets launched by the Turkish army fell near his home.
Marching in total darkness after a shelling caused a power outage, the small family joined another group of villagers that escaped the Turkish shelling in sheer panic. They abandoned their homes, farms and pastures after they were rendered active targets for Turkish artillery shelling over the weekend.
“We are not guilty so that our nights are turned into nightmares and we feel death hunting us down in our homes. If we do not feel safe in our homes then where are we supposed to have a sense of security,” Khalid complained after spending a night in the open without shelter.
“Turkey knows that our government does not defend our rights no matter what happens with us. Therefore, the Turkish army does not abide by any rules of engagement when targeting Kurdish villages,” he added.
The Turkish assault had devastated the homes and farms of a number of Kurdish villagers.
“Turkish artillery targeted the villages of Upper and Lower Panke with 32 artillery shells on midnight Saturday,” reported Delsher Abdulsattar, the Batifa sub-district director.
“The bombing caused material damage that impacted the homes of some citizens and prompted fires in village pastures and farms,” he added.
Turkey launched operations Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle on June 16 to hunt down Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighters stationed on borders between Iraq and Turkey. Many Iraqi Kurdistan villages have become the target of frequent attacks staged by Turkish fighter jets and artillery.
Most of the villages that have come under attack are situated in the Dohuk and Erbil governorates. Some locations in the Sinjar mountains were also hit.
The Turkish army also carried out numerous airdrops in Zakho district, aiming to take over strategic mountain spots.
A number of sites were effectively controlled and taken as observation, monitoring and attack outposts. This triggered mass displacement of locals in nearby areas.