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Victims of Turkish, Iranian Cross-Border Bombings Speak Out in Soran

NRT English, 2 September 2019

SULAIMANI — Victims of Turkish and Iranian cross-border bombings on villages in the Kurdistan Region gathered in Soran on Monday (September 2) to launch a campaign to bring attention to the issue and demand a halt to the airstrikes and shelling.

During a press conference organized in partnership with violence-reduction and human rights organization Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), victims and their families also urged Erbil and Baghdad to establish a compensation fund for those affected.

Dilshad Khidr lost five members of his family in a Turkish airstrike in 2015 and spoke to NRT Digital Media during the press conference.

“We evacuated our village on May 1, 2015,” he said.

“We now live in a shelter and a rented house. One of my brothers lives in rented house. His vehicle was targeted in the airstrike and he was compensated one million Iraqi dinars [$838] for his vehicle, which was worth $13,000.”

“I am calling on the Kurdistan Parliament and also the Council of Representatives to allocate a budget for the affected people,” Khidr continued.

CPT coordinator Julie Brown told NRT Digital Media that while they were providing support to the campaign, the victims and their families were taking the lead.

“What we’re actually doing is listening to the requests of our partners and the people who are affected by these cross-border bombings,” she said.

“Together we’ve made a plan to engage a lot of different [actors], like the international community, the local communities, and also the Iraqi government, because it’s going to take a very large, coordinated effort to be able to solve the problem of the cross-border bombings,” she added.

In a flyer sent to NRT Digital Media, CPT also called on “all armed groups and foreign militaries [to] withdraw from village areas” and for “those killed due to bombings [to be] recognized as martyrs and the correct cause-of death…listed on death certificates.”

They also urged officials from Erbil and Baghdad to meet with those who have been affected by the bombing campaign.

Both Turkey and Iran routinely conduct airstrikes and shelling in the border area in the Kurdistan Region in an attempt to target the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other opposition groups, like the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI).

According to conflict monitor Airwars, as many as 46 civilians have been killed by Turkish cross-border attacks since August 2015.

In one recent example of Iranian cross-border action, a girl was killed in an artillery barrage in Bradost on July 10. On September 8, 2018, an Iranian missile attack on a meeting of opposition leaders in Koya killed sixteen people and wounded dozens.

In addition to the deaths, the cross border bombing have forced villagers to flee their homes and caused significant damage to local agriculture and infrastructure.

“I am calling on the Speaker of the Council of Representatives [Mohammed al-Halbusi] to see the affected people like they see other people,” Khidr said.

“We should not be victims of the fighting in the border areas.”