🔴Over 1,000 Kurdish families have been forced to evacuate homes in the Soran region of Iraqi Kurdistan, amid escalating tensions and Turkey's persistent attacks on PKK guerrilla positions.#MilitaryOperation – #TurkeyAttacks – #PKK
— MedyaNews (@medyanews_) September 26, 2023
Over 1,000 families have been forced to evacuate homes in the Soran district of Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s northeast Erbil (Hewlêr) province. While the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) attributed the move to ‘security concerns’, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) suggested that the strategy facilitates Turkey’s military operations in the region.
In the Soran region, residents have been living under the shadow of violence and death since at least 2020. The tension has escalated due to internal divisions among Kurdish factions. Notably, the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which has aligned itself closely with Turkish interests, has ramped up pressure on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). This internal strife has been exacerbated by ongoing Turkish airstrikes on guerrilla positions in the region.
Recent weeks have seen the evacuation of over 100 villages in Erbil’s Balekayeti and Biradost districts, situated near the Iranian and Turkish frontiers. On 18 September, local Roj News reported that farmers and shepherds in the nearby Sidekan (Sîdekan) district had been told to evacuate due to security risks.
As areas become increasingly militarised and depopulated, residents forced to leave have spoken out about their difficulties. “We were instructed to move down here. We had no choice but to leave,” a resident told NRT on Sunday.
Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Cemil Bayık warned on Sunday that the KDP’s partnership with Turkey could lead to inevitable war. Bayık accused the KDP of providing various forms of support to the Turkish military, including intelligence and logistical assistance.
The conflict has had a devastating impact on regional livelihoods. “I’ve suffered significant economic losses,” a local explained. ”My bees are now stuck at the Bradost border; we’re not allowed to go there. Beekeeping is such that you must stay with your bees, live with them, to gain any benefit from it.”
The situation has left many areas largely uninhabited and has disrupted agricultural-based livelihoods.