Turkey’s air-and-ground campaign in Iraqi Kurdistan has been ongoing with considerable environmental consequences since 23 April, as many villages have been targeted by bombs and forest areas have been reportedly burnt down.
On the 42nd day of the Turkish campaign, intense clashes between the Turkish Armed Forces and the People’s Defence Forces (HPG) were reported to have taken place on Hill Zendura in Metina, in Dola Maran, Mervanos and Şûkê in Avashin and ‘Küçük’ Cilo regions in Zap.
MA reports that residential areas in Iraqi Kurdistan have also been shelled by Turkey by fighter jets and mortars. It stated that approximately 1,850 decares of land between the Kêste village of the Metina region and the Kanîmasi region were burned down in the fires that broke out due to the shelling.
It was reported that the trees in the region were cut with the approval and participation of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Politburo member Ali Awni. Villagers who shared this information with MA stated that the trees were cut in partnership with companies close to Awni and some companies in Turkey.
The villagers also stated that trees that were cut down were taken to Turkey and sold under the coordination of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT). It has been claimed that the cutting and selling of trees in Sinaht, Mêrga Şîş, Kelok, Masi Sinda villages and all surrounding forest areas in Sindi region has been organised by three subcontractors of the Turkish company Cengiz Holding.
Turkish ambassador to Erbil (Hewler) Hakan Karaçay provided information to Hêmin Hawrami, deputy speaker of the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament, about the cutting down of the trees, burnt lands and evacuated villages during the military operations in Metina, Zap and Avashin. “We bought the lands we are on. We cut the trees and build roads where we buy,” he said, according to MA.
According to Politic Press, which also reported upon the meeting between Karaçay and Hawrani, Turkey has bought some lands in Iraqi Kurdistan where their military bases are located and Turkey builds roads on these lands that they purchased within the scope of an agreement with the KDP.
The Politic Press report also states that during the meeting, Karaçay provided two written documents to be given to Masrour and Nechirvan Barzani. The report also claims that during Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kazimi’s visit to Ankara, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan informed Kazimi that they had purchased lands from some parts of Iraqi Kurdistan.