First-hand observations from areas in South Kurdistan which are attacked by Turkey

First-hand observations from areas in South Kurdistan which are attacked by Turkey

On the night of April 23, 2021, at around 9:00 p.m. the areas Metina, Zap and Avasin – in total about 100 kms long and 40 kms deep – in South Kurdistan (North Iraq) became the target of unprecedented Turkish air attacks. This area is located between the Khabour river in the west and Basyan River in the east. The Turkish drones had intensified their flights over the area from a week before. Then came the fighter jet attacks at that night. There were tens of jets in the air, each bombing the mountains, cliffs, forests, valleys time and time again. This lasted for an hour. After that came the artillery and rockets. Hundreds of artillery shells were fired at the area. Every target hit by the fighter jets was hit again by artillery shells. After this barrage of artillery, many helicopter gunships were deployed to Metina, Zap and Avasin and fired rockets and thousands of bullets while the area continued to be pounded by Turkish jets and artillery. This caused huge fires in the area which is covered by dense forests and hosts a variety of different animals, some of which are under the threat of extinction. After that, under the protection of armed Turkish drones and helicopter gunships hundreds of Turkish soldiers were airdropped in the area. Some 2 kms deep in the area, and some 9 kms.

The areas affected are home to many villages inhabited by Yezidis, Christians, Assyrians, Syriacs, and Muslim Kurds. This is not the first time the people in the area have witnessed such a brutal attack. They have already been the subject of Saddam’s Anfal-Operation and brutal chemical attacks. They have rebuilt their houses from scratch many times, which had each time been destroyed by an invading army. Currently, Keste and Derare villages are the main targets of the Turkish attack on South Kurdistan. Keste village had hosted many of the Yezidi refugees who had taken refuge there, at the time of IS attacks on Sinjar in 2014. Many of them still live in the area and had already rebuilt a village razed by Saddam during the Anfal-Operation. These two villages, along with tens of others are now under heavy daily attack.

From the very first hours when the Turkish troops were airdropped into South Kurdistan on April 23, 2021, Kurdistan Freedom Fighters put up a heavy resistance against them. Fierce clashed happened between them and the invading Turkish army. Unable to break the resistance of the guerrilla – waged in tunnels and caves – the Turkish army resorted to using chemical weapons against the freedom fighters. So in an area called Mam Resho they gassed 7 of our comrades to death on May 3, 2021, for their 10 days long resistance had turned into a great stumbling block in the way of the advance of the Turkish army. All 7 comrades fell martyr. Inspired by DAESH, Turkish soldiers had filmed themselves while they were pulling out the bodies of these seven comrades from the caves and cursing at them. These videos were then published on twitter accounts and other social media channels.

The Turkish army uses jihadist mercenaries it has recruited from the Syrian war in the war in Kurdistan. During the DAESH onslaught on the Kurds in 2014 and 2015, Turkish intelligence and military officers used to be embedded with DAESH brigades. Now, battle-hardened ex-DAESH members are embedded with Turkish army units in the areas of the operation. We know this from the first hand testimonies of our comrades who have been engaged in close combat with the airdropped Turkish army units. According to their testimonies, many of those airdropped speak Arabic, they receive commands in Arabic and give commands in Arabic. This is not surprising, given Turkey’s use of these jihadist mercenaries in Libya and Armenia.

The bombardments and clashes continue until now, with hundreds of bombs and artillery shells dropped on the area each day, far exceeding the amount of the ammunition the Israeli army uses in Gaza.

The Turkish attacks on South Kurdistan are supported by many international and regional forces. In March and April, Turkey held many meetings with France, Britain, Germany, the USA, Israel, Iraq and the KRG (Kurdish Regional Government). None of them has taken actions to stop Turkey`s attacks. We are very aware that we are resisting against an army whose bombs, machine guns and drones have been supplied to Turkey by NATO member states. So we know that protests and effective actions by the people in these countries will play a huge role in stopping the Turkish attacks on South Kurdistan.

The goal of these attacks is the occupation of all of South Kurdistan, including Mosul and Kirkuk. Just a few days ago, on May 13, the Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar threatened openly to attack Kandil, Maxmur and Sinjar next. We have seen in Afrin that such an occupation would amount to a genocide against the local Kurdish population. But not only the Kurds and the PKK, all peoples of the region are under a great threat.

Preventing the Turkish occupation of South Kurdistan and the Kurdish genocide will deal a huge blow to Erdogan`s fascist regime. With this regime gone, the people in Turkey, Kurdistan and the Middle East will get a chance to breath again and to democratize their countries. For this to happen, international support is vital.