IRAQ: Effects of recent Iranian and Turkish bombardment on civilians

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CPTnet
7 July 2010
IRAQ:  Effects of recent Iranian
and Turkish bombardment on civilians. 


On 21-22 June 2010, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) visited several Kurdish
Iraqi families affected by Iranian cross-border attacks, which have intensified
in the past three months.  Along a
hillside, villagers pointed out remnants of twelve rockets that exploded three
weeks earlier near the tents of two semi-nomadic families, several kilometers
from the village of Kani Spi in the Choman district of northern Iraqi
Kurdistan.  At the families’ new
tent site, Khosha* recounted the attack.  Family members ran away when the shelling started, but
realized to their horror that two of the younger children were missing.  “We started crying, but then later found
them playing safely in another field,” Khosha said.

On the mountainside above the border-crossing town of Haji
Omeran, a farmer told CPT, “When the shelling started around us, eight days
ago, we moved our tent closer to town.” 
After two days of quiet, they moved back near their fields.  “We are not asking for money,” he said,
“We just want other countries to stop the bombing…  This can only be resolved by peaceful negotiations, not by
fighting.”

He pointed up to the mountain top and said, “Two weeks ago,
we saw men with large construction machines building a new Iranian military
base about three km inside the Iraqi border…Iranian soldiers shoot at shepherds
taking their flocks up the mountain to graze, and killed horses that got too
close to the base.”  CPTers observed the newly built structures from
several vantage points in the area.

According to Karwan A.M. Shareef, District Manager of Haji
Omeran, 250-300 families came down to the town from the mountain, fleeing the
shelling.  Most of the families are
from other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan who come here every summer to farm rented
land.  The past three weeks of
shelling have killed 100 livestock. 
While most of the shelling was well outside the town, one rocket
exploded 250 meters from his office.

During the CPTers’ visit, regional news sources reported
that Turkey also resumed cross-border attacks.  On the evening of 19 June 2010, Turkish jets bombed the
Khwakurk and Gali Rasha area in the Sidikan sub-district of Soran, north of the
Choman area.  Those attacks killed
eleven-year-old Zahida Muhammad Majeed from Daila Village, and seriously
injured her thirty-six-year-old mother and her six-year-old brother.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, as reported by Payemner
News Agency, 20 June, 2010, publicly denounced the attacks and said, “I
personally believe the reason they are escalating these attacks now is to test
the will of the Iraqi government, and also the American forces, as a prelude to
withdrawal of US combat forces in August.”

Villagers from that area told CPT that they believed reasons
for the increased attacks included revenge for recent battles—between the
Iranian military and Free Life Party of Kurdistan and between the Turkish
military and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party—which resulted in several casualties.  They also attribute the attacks to Iran
and Turkey’s desire to destroy Kurdish life and culture and de-stabilize the
Kurdish region of Iraq.

*Name changed

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