Residents in Iraqi Kurdistan’s mountainous Bradost area in have said they are unable to move around their own villages due to constant bombardment by the Turkish army, Roj News reported.
The Turkish Armed Forces have launched a series of airstrikes and cross-border military operations into areas of northern Iraq since 2017. The Turkish government says the strikes are necessary to fight the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it defines as a terrorist organisation.
But locals say the Turkish army’s five-year bombardment of villages in Erbil Governorate’s Bradost area has caused the deaths of dozens of civilians. At the same time, the Turkish army has occupied a large part of the area, according to residents and journalists in Bradost.
“We are in a terrible situation because of the Turkish army’s presence here and its bombardments. Bradost’s villages are being bombed every day by the Turkish army. Civilians suffer because of these attacks,” Eshqi Teha, a local from the area, told Roj News.
“Even though the people here want Turkish troops to leave the region, the number of Turkish bases keeps increasing,” he said.
The incursions have damaged agriculture and livestock farming in the area, Teha said, adding that the Kurdistan Regional Government needs to act decisively to remove the Turkish forces from the region.
“Every day civilians are falling victim to the bombardment,” said local journalist Sirwan Sabir. “Every day their farms, orchards and livestock are being destroyed, but no one cares about their financial or mental wellbeing.”
“The Turkish army has been stationed in the Kurdistan Region’s territory since 1992. It has constructed dozens of military bases in the Hêrt plains, Bermize village and on top of mountains. It shows no intention of withdrawing,” Sabir said.
Despite this, the regional government has refrained from condemning these attacks on Bradost, Sabir said. Instead, dozens of families have been left with no option but to sell their livestock and migrate to safer areas, he said.
Turkey’s presence in Iraqi Kurdistan drew international attention when the Turkish army’s attack on civilians in Zakho (Zaxo) killed nine people, including three children, on July 20.
Iraqi authorities pointed to Ankara as the perpetrator and the United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting, where Iraq’s Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein demanded the withdrawal of all Turkish troops from his country. He also called on the Security Council to set up “an international independent team of inquiry” to look into what he called the Turkish army’s “flagrant aggression.”