The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) released a statement denying reports from the hardline Iranian newspaper Kayhan and semi-official Fars News that three “Mossad agents” were killed in a June 27 drone strike in Erbil perpetrated by Iranian-backed militias. Iran often claims it is targeting Israeli interests as a means of justifying attacks in Iraq and other parts of the world. On Tuesday evening July 6th, a drone attack struck Erbil International Airport. According to a preliminary security report, the terror attack did not result in the loss of life or property damage. Iranian-backed militias vowed “revenge” after US airstrikes on their base near the Syrian border on June 28th. Last night, a similar attack took place against the US embassy in Iraq. Since December of 2020, Iranian-backed militias have attacked Erbil four times resulting in civilian casualties.
ISIS (Dae’sh) continued to increase its operational tempo in the “Disputed Territories” and has now killed at least 25 Iraqi security personnel in the last two weeks, mostly in Kirkuk Governorate. Da’esh terrorists also ambushed and killed five civilians, three Kurds and two Arabs, who were attempting to free four kidnapped Kurdish farmers near Jalawla (Golala) on Sunday. At the same time, security forces in Erbil announced the capture of a Da’esh operative who was planning an assault on a counter-terrorism facility to free detained Da’esh members.
Turkish jets and drones struck several locations in Iraqi Kurdistan, including Kista, Amedi, and Qandil. Turkish forces also attacked a vehicle in the Yazidi town of Shingal (Sinjar) that was reportedly affiliated with the Sinjar Resistance Units (YPS). Turkey’s ongoing invasion of Iraq’s Kurdish region has now killed dozens of civilians and forced the evacuation of at least 38 Kurdish and Christian villages.
On July 1, an anti-government protest in Khanaqin demanded the Government of Iraq (GOI) provide more electricity to alleviate a shortage caused by Iran’s decision to stop supplying energy to Iraq. Khaniqin also faces an ongoing water shortage caused by a lack of precipitation and Iran’s cut off of water supplies to the Little Zab and Awland rivers that has reduced wheat production in the area by 33 percent when compared with 2020.
The Turkish government charged the removed former co-mayors of Diyarbakir (Amed), Gülten Kışanak and Fırat Anli, with “creating a co-presidency system in the provincial council” last week. Kışanak was also stripped of her parliamentary immunity in 2019 and is now serving a prison sentence of 14 years and three months, while the co-presidency system was established by Turkey’s Kurdish parties to allow women to serve alongside men. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court of Turkey ruled in favor of jailed Turkish HDP lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu on Friday, and he was released on July 6 after a ruling from a local court in Kocaeli Province. That being said, Turkish police attacked HDP members and supporters who attempted to hold a “justice vigil” for Gergerlioğlu in several cities. Lastly, 9 previously detained individuals began serving prison sentences in Urfa and Mardin, and European lawmakers again criticized Turkish authorities’ repression of the HDP and other opposition parties.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the United States of pushing the Kurds “towards separatism” and expressed readiness to mediate talks between the Kurds and the Assad regime. The Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) described Lavrov’s comments as “a positive step towards a solution” but blamed the Syrian regime for not accepting “reality” and adhering to “the same mentality that led to this crisis and Syrian suffering.” Syria’s Kurds also blame Russia for allowing Turkey to occupy Afrin. Tens of thousands of displaced Kurds from Afrin have settled in rural areas surrounding Aleppo, but the Assad regime greatly limits their access to humanitarian aid and medical supplies needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkish proxies shelled two villages north of Manbij on Friday and Monday. Concurrently, a Turkish drone struck a position believed occupied by Kurdish forces in Aleppo Governorate’s Tal Rifaat. Moreover, several pro-Kurdish media outlets reported a Turkish indirect fire attack injured a woman and a child in the area on Sunday.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the arrest of a Da’esh explosives expert who was responsible for building IEDs and plotting attacks on the SDF and US-led coalition near Hasakah Governorate’s ash Shaddadi. Simultaneously, Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova traveled to the AANES and repatriated 20 more Da’esh children. Kurdish officials then announced they have returned over 250 children to the Russian government, though thousands of foreign Da’esh terrorists and their relatives remain detained throughout the region in facilities like al Hawl camp.
Several activists in Iranian Kurdistan launched a hunger strike to protest the ongoing detention of a prominent Yarisini Kurdish activist named Kharollah Haqjoian. Meanwhile, the Iranian regime continued its ongoing campaign against Kurdish political activity by arresting Biehzad Mohammadi in Sanandaj, Arman Zenati in Baneh, and Mohammed Alias in Piranshahr, though an Iranian appeals court did reduce the prison sentences of two Kurdish political prisoners, Kamaran Qasmi and Kaiwan Rashozadeh, from ten years to seven years and six months. On another note, the Kurdistan Association for Human Rights (KMMK) reported Iranian authorities arrested 15 Kurds believed to have links to Sunni groups in Kermanshah on Friday. Iran has recently intensified its crackdown on domestic Sunni organizations with conservative and/or Islamist leanings but has also hosted al Qa’ida operatives, assisted the Afghan Taliban, and previously supported the Iraqi Kurdistan-based Ansar al Islam.
On Wednesday, Iranian border guards killed a Kurdish border porter (Kolbar) named Kaiwan Muradi and injured another named Sirwan Takhani near Hawraman. Iranian border guards also wounded several Kolbars near the Iran-Iraq border, including Abubaker Bashbrakhi, Dilshad Amenzadeh, and Mansour Bahrami. Lastly, a Kolbar named Sadiq Nasri died when he fell from a cliff in the Tata mountains while attempting to evade Iranian authorities on Friday.