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Iraq: Christians evacuating their villages due to Turkish bombardments

The Turkish government has picked up where ISIS left off, continuing the persecution of Christians in Iraq by targeting Christian villages for airstrikes. Clearly the Turkish government is using its military actions against the PKK to further its longstanding persecution of Christians, which we have seen in the occupation and ethnic cleansing of northern Cyprus; the ongoing discrimination against of and harassment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the remaining Christians of Turkey; the long imprisonment of Pastor Andrew Brunson and other Christian leaders; and much more. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East has a diocese in Iraq, the Archdiocese of Baghdad. Like other Christian communities in Iraq, however, the Orthodox community has been decimated by well over a decade of war.

“Christians evacuating their villages due to Turkish bombardments” by Lawk Ghafuri, Rudaw, August 3, 2019:

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Around 10 Christian villages in the northern Kurdistan Region have been evacuated due to frequent and increasing Turkish bombings targeting apparent Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions.

Rudaw visited Christian villages in the Kani Masi District, where some homes are locked up and abandoned. There are 25 such villages in the district, including 10 or so evacuated ones, according to district officials. One local told Rudaw the PKK should leave the area.

“PKK better to go back to Turkey, and fight against the Turkish army inside Turkey, and leave Kurdistan region for peace,” said Shlimon Aseel from the village of Duri, where 15 of the 40 homes have been evacuated.

The PKK is a Kurdish militant group that has fought the Turkish state for decades for greater autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds. Ankara considers the PKK a terrorist group and regularly strikes apparent targets of the group in the Kurdistan Region. The PKK is based in the Qandil mountains along the Turkey-Iraq border.

PKK fighters are present in the areas around the city of Amedi where Kani Masi is. The area is in the Duhok Province amd close to the Turkish border. Most Christians in the there identify as ethnic Assyrians.

Sarbast Sabri, the head of Kani Masi District, says the Turkish airstrikes hit the district on a daily basis, and negatively impact the lives of civilians.

“Civilians in the area are living in continuous panic, due to the Turkish bombardments and PKK movements in the areas of Kani Masi,” he told Rudaw….

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