Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Iraq/Kurdistan: Turkish forces shelling Kurdish villages

As I was trying to work and/or prepare to leave Istanbul, I started hearing about Turkish forces fighting in northern Kurdistan/south-eastern Turkey and shelling Kurdish villages in northern Iraq/southern Kurdistan.

On Monday the 21st of May on Şahmaran, Kristiina Koivunen observed that,
There is already enough of soldiers in the Turkish side of the boarder [border] but 50 000 more of them were transported last week to Sirnak. Battles between PKK guerrillas and Turkish army continue in Cudi and Gabar mountains and in Bestler-Dereler area. The target of the army is clear: Iraq boarder [border] and Kandil.
Grossly mistaken information I received from local sources on the 22nd of May in south-eastern Kurdistan/northern Kurdistan alleged that 200,000 soldiers (of a force of two million) were on each side of the border and that the war - which they would, of course, win - would begin in the next month or two.

The numbers are unrealistic (in the Independent on the 21st of December 2006, Andrew Buncombe stated that Turkey had a total of 514,850 soldiers), the locations mistaken (the incursions into Iraqi territory have so far been by small forces, the vast majority of the troops remaining within Turkish territory) and the timing vague (although that does depend on quite how intolerable the Turkish army finds democracy); its value is in reflecting what I've felt to be a common Turkish nationalist perception of the Turkish military and the war to come.

Moreover, if the hubris were suppressed, the idea that about 20% of the military was being mobilised against (its own citizens and its neighbours) the Kurdish community, maintaining the occupation of northern Kurdistan and preparing for and initiating the invasion and occupation of southern Kurdistan, would be about right. To be clear how massive an operation this is, it helps to remember that 'Turkey has amassed more Mehmetçiks along the border that divides Kurdistan into north and south than the US has in all of Iraq'.

In Aswat al-Iraq (Voices of Iraq (VOI)), Rasheed Ahmed stated that "Turkish artillery shells border area in Iraq":
'At 2.30 p.m. Saturday afternoon [on the 19th of May], Turkish forces fired five 120-mm shells into the village of Marsis in Keli Besagha,' 25 km north of Zakho, Fahmi Soufi, deputy commander of military forces in Kurdistan told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
The shelling did not cause any damage, he added.
Last week, Turkish troops shelled two villages in the border area of Kani Masi, 90 km north of Dahuk.
(It's reliably available at Iraqi News.)

On the 23rd of May, Rasheed Ahmed reported that "Turkish troops shell Iraqi areas, cross borders":
Turkish troops shelled several areas on the Iraqi side of the common border with heavy artillery on Tuesday and some units crossed up 150 meters into Iraqi territory, witnesses said.
"At 2.45 p.m., the Turkish forces fired 16 heavy shells into the areas of Mulla Bagowa, Alanj, Binkhri and Waira about 25 km north of Zakho," Mohammed Saleh Hussein, 46, said adding he was in the area at the time of the shelling.
"It did not cause any damage," he told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
He said the Turkish forces attacked the same area last night with machinegun fire without causing any damage, adding that residents were terrified.
A Kurdish military source confirmed the attacks without elaborating.
Mohammed Khowasti, a shepherd, said Turkish soldiers penetrated up to 150 meters into Iraqi territory at Afa Kizi, 30 km north of Zakho, and were stationed at an area called Kani Farshak.
The intruding force comprised 100 soldiers, two tanks and cannons, he added.
Turkey shelled border areas in the past two days on the pretext there were Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) forces and camps, which local officials have repeatedly denied.
(Again, here's the Iraqi News copy.)

A couple of days ago at Rastî, Mizgîn noted that on Thursday the 24th of May:
Apparently, two American F-16 fighter aircraft based in Iraq broached Turkish airspace over Turkish-occupied Kurdistan for a period of four minutes.... While the US is claiming that the broach of airspace was "inadvertent", and the US claims that the matter is being looked into, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that the broach was a deliberate reply to the Paşas' threats of invasion, including the Turkish breach of Iraqi (specifically, South Kurdistani) airspace. Coincidentally that event also took place last Thursday, along with Turkish artillery bombardment of Kurdish villages.
On Thursday the 24th of May, Rashid Ahmed wrote that "Turkish warplanes violate Iraq's northern airspace":
local residents from villages on the borders with Turkey told VOI [Voices of Iraq] "12 artillery shells were fired from the Turkish territories onto the villages of Nazador and Gali Bazagha with no reports of casualties."
(It's reliably available at Iraq News Monitor.)

Turkey has already destroyed more than four thousand (4,000) Kurdish villages in northern Kurdistan/south-eastern Turkey and [maybe] more than two thousand (2,000) in northern Iraq/southern Kurdistan [although that's an unreliable figure, as its the alleged total of more than 6,000 'burned villages' minus the approximately 4,000 of those Kurdish villages destroyed within Turkish territory] and it is now preparing to initiate a massive campaign against the Kurdish community. If you want to see what happens to a Kurdish village when the Turkish army conducts a supposedly military operation, I have a photoblog of a visit to Kılıdar/Kiledar/Kileder.

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