What are Turkish Armed Forces aiming for in Iraqi Kurdistan?

Turkish Armed Forces have started a new military offensive in Iraqi Kurdistan with up to 300 military tanks, operating on the ground in Barbary Balla for ten days and have entered multiple villages in the region.
An image of a Turkish military vehicle driving through a Kurdish village with text that reads "What are Turkish Armed Forces aiming for in Iraqi Kurdistan?"

On 28 January 2024, Turkish armed forces began construction of a military road network in Iraqi Kurdistan. This network connected the military bases built during the 2021 ‘Claw Lightning’ operation in the Berwary Balla area of the Kani Masi subdistrict. Turkey constructed this road network in just a few weeks which reached 9km deep inside Iraqi Kurdistan. On 10 April 2024, the Iraqi border guard force constructed two military bases in the villages around Batifa. These military bases, established on Mily Siri and Chapere Englis, were built to stop Turkey from advancing further into Iraqi Kurdistan. The construction of these two bases allowed hundreds of families from Kashan, Shilan, Banke and dozens of other villages to return. Some villagers had been prevented from visiting their lands for 13 years. Shortly after construction was completed, the Turkish Armed Forces began military advancements in the villages of the Berwary Balla area, located in the east of the Batifa district.

In the last ten days, Turkish armed forces have entered the villages of Ura, Seraro, Aradina, Keste, Chalke and Babire through the military roads built in January this year. During the last three days, nearly 1000 Turkish soldiers were witnessed going back and forth between the Gre-Barukh military base (Gre-Barukh is the most extensive Turkish military base in Iraqi Kurdistan, which was built in 1997) and Metina mountain behind Bamarne subdistrict. Since the morning of 25 June, Turkish armed forces have set up a checkpoint between Babire and Kani Belave villages, and whoever travels on that road will have their IDs checked by Turkish soldiers.

Turkey’s current goal is to establish a security line from Shiladze to Batifa. This security line travels through Deraluke, Bamarne, Kani Mase and Begova subdistricts. The Turkish army would control all the villages, mountains, lands, valleys, and rivers behind this line. In the future, military clashes will happen inside urban areas, and the towns will be the battlegrounds.

Another goal of Turkey’s military operation is to reach Hawt Tabaq mountain through Shiladze and then control the Gara mountain range. If this happens, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will lose 70-75% of its power in the Duhok governorate. At the same time, this military maneuvering is a response to the Iraq border guards’ recent base building to prevent Turkey from further entering Iraqi Kurdistan this year.

If Turkey achieves their goal in this military operation, then dozens of villages and towns will face serious threats, and hundreds of villagers and civilians will be displaced. An essential portion of Kurdistan’s land would be in the hands of the Turkish Armed Forces, and it would be almost impossible to take it back under the KRG and Iraqi government’s power.

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