Turkish military bombardments targeting sites near Yazidi refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan have displaced the camps’ inhabitants in recent weeks, the Kurdish news agency Rudaw reported on Wednesday.
“Yazidis displaced from Shingal [also known as Sinjar, Iraq] in 2014 have now been forced to flee IDP [Internally Displaced Persons] camps in Zakho due to nearby Turkish bombardments,” Rudaw reported on June 16. Zakho is a city and district within the Duhok Governorate administered by the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq. Zakho district is located along Iraq’s border with Turkey.
“More than 3,000 people have had to leave Bersive 1, Bersive 2 and Derkar camps due to Turkish operations in the area,” Khalat Osman, the municipal manager of Zakho’s IDP camps, told the news outlet.
The Turkish Armed Forces launched a joint air and ground campaign — Operation Claw-Lightning and Operation Claw-Thunderbolt — in northern Iraq in April against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which both Ankara and Washington consider a terror group. The Turkish military operations have endangered the lives of ethnic Yazidis residing in Zakho’s IDP camps, nearly 3,000 of whom have fled the area for villages on the outskirts of Zakho or for their original homeland in Sinjar, Iraq, according to Rudaw.
“Turkey set up three military bases on the nearby Mt. Khamtir six months ago,” the Kurdish news agency recalled on June 16. One Turkish military base is located just 2.5 miles from a Zakho IDP camp known as “Bersive 1 Camp.”
“We hear the bombs from the morning to the evening,” Golan Hamo, a Bersive 1 Camp resident, told Rudaw.
“We hear the sounds of the jets conducting airstrikes. They’ve ruined our lives,” she added.
“War happens every day, with constant airstrikes. We’re very scared. Each of us has struggled with mental health issues at some point,” Amira Ilyas, another female resident of Bersive 1 Camp, told the news agency.
“When we fled ISIS [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] we came here [to Zakho] and started planting tomatoes on the Turkish border,” a Yazidi farmer named Murad Khidr told Rudaw.
“Airstrikes take place every day. They [the Turkish Armed Forces] use RPGs [rocket propelled grenades] and mortars to attack this area. No one dares come here,” Khidr, who now lives in Karne village outside of Zhako, said.
“We heard jets and machine guns, and our families were terrified. That’s why people leave the camps,” Hassan Naamat, another Yazidi who fled Zakho for Karne village, told Rudaw.