A weekly brief of events occurred in the Kurdistan regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
The Iranian regime stepped up efforts to eliminate domestic opposition groups. Iran’s secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein in Tehran and demanded the Government of Iraq (GOI) expel Kurdish opposition groups like the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) and Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) from Iraqi territory. “We call on the Iraqi government to be more serious about expelling these groups from Iraqi Kurdistan so that Iran does not have to take precautionary measures to prevent the continuation of the evil of armed terrorists in Iraqi Kurdistan,” said Shamkhani. The Iranian regime has a long history of assassinating political dissidents in foreign countries and most recently murdered a senior figure from the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I) named Mousa Babakhani in Erbil on August 5.
Iranian authorities arrested numerous Kurdish activists last week, including Khabat Mafakhary and Amir Hoshman in Sanandaj, Faryar Benham in Paveh (Pawa), Omed Sarafraz in Divandarreh (Diwandar), and Arsalan Pourmohammed, Abdulrahman Qadiri, and Mozafar Ahmadi in Piranshahr. Furthermore, the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported Saqqez’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced a popular Kurdish singer named Khalid Karim for “anti-government social media activity.” Lastly, the Kurdistan Human Rights Association (KMMK) reported Iranian officials denied medical attention to two Kurdish political prisoners named Qadir Mohammedzada and Naeb Hajizada.
A mine from the Iran-Iraq War killed a deminer named Ali Akbari and severely wounded another near a village in Ilam Province’s Dehloran. Thousands of mines from the conflict continue to pose a threat to residents on both sides of the Iran-Iraq border. Meanwhile, Iranian border guards killed a Kurdish shepherd near the Turkish border on Sunday and wounded a border porter (Kolbar) named Soran Rasuli near Sardasht. Rasuli was transferred to Qaladeze’s main hospital in Iraqi Kurdistan for further treatment.
Turkish forces killed a father of seven named Ibrahim Hassani in Dohuk Government’s Kani Masi subdistrict on Friday. Hassani was killed in his apple orchard when Turkish forces opened fire on alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the area. Concurrently, Turkish jets and drones struck several locations near Hiror village and Metin mountain and caused forest fires. Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar announced four Turkish soldiers and four PKK fighters were killed in the most recent clashes.
A Turkish drone strike destroyed a vehicle inside the Yazidi town of Shingal (Sinjar) on Tuesday, killing a commander of the Sinjar Resistance Units (YPS) named Saed Hassan and his nephew, who was also a YPS member. The drone strike also wounded three civilians named Media Semo, Abbas Barjas, and Mirza Ali. Meanwhile, 213 Yazidi families went back to Dohuk for a second time following their brief return to the homes they were displaced from in 2014. Shingal and its surrounding areas remain blighted by high unemployment and a lack of services, while security forces in the region are still hampered by a lack of organization and unity of command.
A delegation from Iraq’s Ministry of Defense finalized a prior agreement to form two joint Iraqi-Peshmerga brigades for security duties in the “Disputed Territories” and will now seek approval of their budget from Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi. The joint brigades will attempt to fill the security vacuum created when Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed militias removed the Peshmerga from the region on October 16, 2017. Despite these developments, however, ISIS (Da’esh) continued its war on Iraq’s electrical infrastructure by disabling more electricity pylons on Monday. Da’esh also demanded a 100,000 USD ransom for the release of three kidnapped Makhmour residents.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported Turkish proxies kidnapped 15 more people, including two former employees of the local Kurdish administration, in occupied Afrin and demanded ransoms for their release. At the same time, clashes erupted between Turkish-sponsored local “military police” and the Turkish proxy Jahbat as Shamia near the city center. In the meantime, a senior Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) official named Chia Badran demanded tens of thousands of Kurds displaced from Afrin be allowed to return home from Assad regime-controlled territories and requested “international guarantees and security plans” to facilitate such an outcome. Badran also emphasized the need for a judicial system capable of guaranteeing the return of displaced civilians’ homes and properties that were confiscated by Turkey and its Islamist proxies.
The Turkish military and allied fighters launched additional attacks on AANES-controlled areas in eastern Syria. Several intense volleys of indirect fire targeted villages near the Christian town of Tal Tamer and injured a woman named Mariam Saleh. Angry locals expressed frustration to the Kurdish media outlet Hawlar News after the shelling and criticized Russia for its failure to enforce a ceasefire between the AANES and Turkey. Turkish-backed groups also shelled several areas near Zargan town. Finally, on the fifth anniversary of Manbij’s liberation from Da’esh, the Manbij Military Council (MMC) released a report on Turkish military operations that claimed Turkey and its proxies have carried out air and artillery strikes that have killed 30 civilians and wounded at least 67 in the area since 2016.
Syrian President Bashar al Assad met with his new cabinet and advocated decentralization in the country for the first time since 2011, stating, “Decentralization achieves balanced development between the different richer and poorer regions and between the countryside.” Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) Co-chair Ryad Dardar, in an interview, agreed with Assad in saying, “The name of the administration is not important, whether it is a local administration or an autonomous administration. The important thing is that the local councils take their range and will not be controlled by a governor or a ministry.” That said, despite Russian mediation efforts, talks between Syrian Kurds and the Assad regime have failed to achieve any meaningful progress.
The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) called for a parliamentary investigation after flooding in three Turkish provinces killed at least 77 people. HDP lawmakers went on to blame “policies that destroyed environmental and ecological balance,” “political power” in Turkey, and local authorities for the death and destruction caused by the Black Sea floods. 47 remain missing after the floods and mudslides, and rescue efforts are ongoing.
27 US Representatives sent a letter to US Secretary of State Tony Blinken that expressed concerns regarding Turkey’s drone program, requested a briefing on the ramifications of Turkish drone sales and employment, and urged the suspension of export permits for US drone technology to Turkey pending a State Department review. The letter also addressed Turkey’s use of drones against civilians in northeastern Syria, Armenia, and Libya and ongoing discussions between Turkey, Pakistan, and Russia regarding potential joint production agreements.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) denounced a mob attack perpetrated by over 100 Turks against Syrian refugees and Syrian-owned businesses in Ankara. The HDK then called for the Turkish government to put an end to a dangerous trend towards ultranationalism and released a statement that read, “The pogrom attempt is not independent from the government.” The mob violence in Ankara allegedly began after a Turkish youth was stabbed to death during a fight between Turkish and Syrian teenagers.
Turkish authorities arrested more than 100 Kurds, including the HDP co-chair of Mus, Belma Nergiz, for social media posts and criticizing the government in Diyarbakir (Amed), Van, Mardin, Batman, and Adana. The detained were accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “acting on behalf of a terrorist organization.”