IRAQI KURDISTAN: Statement Condemning the Turkish Military Bombings on Civilian Areas in Shengal

25 August 2021

The vehicle bombed by Turkey inside Shengal. Photo taken by a resident of Shengal

In early August 2021, the Turkish Armed Forces attacked civilian areas twice in Shengal (Sinjar), Iraq, killing four civilians and injuring at least 13 more.

Shengal is the Yezidi territory that ISIS brutally attacked and controlled after the security forces fled the area in 2014. The Sinjar Resistance Units (YBŞ), with predominantly Yezidi membership, was established to fight ISIS after its assault in 2014. YBŞ controls security in much of the area and is now an official part of the Iraqi Army. They have close ties to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) after receiving support in the fight against ISIS.

On 16 August, the Turkish military conducted a drone strike and targeted a vehicle carrying YBŞ personnel inside the city of Shengal. The group was on a diplomatic mission to meet with Iraqi officials as part of President Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s visit to Shengal. The drone strike killed Seid Hesen, a high commander of YPS, and Essa Xweded, a YBŞ fighter. The three remaining passengers in the car were severely injured.

The explosion from the attack also injured three civilians, Mahir Mirza Ali, Media Qasim Simo, and Shamil Abbas Brgis, who were working for Global Clearance Solutions (GCS). GCS is an NGO specialising in warzone de-mining, and the employees were clearing a nearby building of mines left by ISIS in their departure from the city.

Following that, on 17 August, Turkey bombed the hospital in Skine village. The hospital was founded in 2016 by the YBŞ after the village was liberated from ISIS. The hospital, converted from an old school building, served the civilian population, Covid-19 patients, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and YBŞ fighters.

The Turkish military directly bombed the hospital, killing eight people, including four healthcare workers: Ali Rasho Khdir, Sehdo Elyas Rasho, Haji Khdir, and Mukhlisa Sedar, as well as four YBŞ fighters guarding the hospital: Hamid Sehdon, Khdir Shareef, Rami Al-Salim, and Maithem Khdir Xalaf. Another healthcare worker, Habdi Sleman, was injured from the bombing.

In the aftermath of the attack, as people rushed to help the injured and dying, Turkey bombed the area twice more, injuring nine more people trying to offer aid.

The Turkish presidential office claims not to have targeted a hospital but a PKK base. Residents of Shengal deny this statement.

Last year on 26 May, the Turkish military bombed another hospital in Safra village in the Suleimani governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan. That hospital has been unable to reopen for local residents due to the damage caused by the Turkish military’s assault.

A coalition of NGOs, including CPT, CODEPINK, UPP and ICSSI, condemn the Turkish military attacks on civilians, civilian areas and medical infrastructure. We call on foreign countries to help with initiatives to rebuild Shengal after the war with ISIS and not contribute to the further destruction of cities and towns.

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