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Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief, September 21, 2021

22.09.2021
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A weekly brief of events occurred in the Kurdistan regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.

Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief

Iran 

  • The Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammed Bagheri, vowed more attacks on “anti-revolutionary groups” would follow the regime’s recent operations targeting Iranian Kurdish opposition parties in Iraqi Kurdistan. Bagheri also called for the eviction of US forces stationed at the Harir Airbase in Erbil, calling their presence a “conspiracy” and stating, “We will not tolerate the presence of the Harir base near our borders holding counter-revolutionary conspiracy meetings inside this base.” Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDP-I) released photos of several Iranian drones it claims to have shot down that featured components produced in the US, UK, China, and Poland. Simultaneously, the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) clashed with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) near Oshnavieh (Shinno).
  • Turkish authorities deported nine Iranian Kurds to Syria after they were arrested while attempting to enter Europe and seek asylum. When the asylum seekers claimed they were Syrian to avoid being returned to Iran to face persecution, Turkish authorities handed them over to Turkish-backed Syrian groups. The Kurdish refugees’ families were offered no information or status updates by the Turkish government but received several calls from Syria demanding a ransom for their relatives’ release.
  • Iranian border guards killed a Kurdish border porter (kolbar) named Mohammed Qaderi on Thursday near Baneh and another on the same day named Omed Mohammedzadah near Sardasht. Moreover, a kolbar named Shawkat Qurbani died from a heart attack near Nowdeshah on Friday. Also, on Friday, a Turkish airstrike killed two kolbars near Urmia. Turkey has now killed at least 15 kolbars in 2021.
  • Several Kurdish human rights groups reported Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) tortured two Kurdish men, Assad Ramin and Dawood Rahimi, to death last week. Ramin and Rahimi were arrested on September 6 for “membership in Kurdish opposition parties.” Iranian authorities also detained an animal rights activist named Faiq Sawjeblaghi in Piranshahr and a Kurdish man named Anwar Rasoli in Baneh.

Iraq 

  • The Turkish military hit several areas along the Iraq-Turkey border with air and artillery strikes, including Duhok Governorate’s Avashin and Darkar subdistrict. Concurrently, unknown gunmen assassinated a senior member of the PKK named Yousif Murad in Sulaymaniyah on Friday and wounded a PKK-affiliated individual on Saturday. The PKK accused Turkey, who has assassinated several PKK members in Iraqi Kurdistan since 2019, of being behind Friday and Saturday’s attacks.  
  • ISIS (Da’esh) terrorists killed four Iraqi Federal Police officers near Rashad and carried out several operations in Kirkuk Governorate’s Hawija District. Da’esh’s ongoing insurgency in the “Disputed Territories” has also forced the evacuation of villages near Makhmour and spurred the head of Iraq’s National Security Service (NSS), Abdul Ghani al Asadi, to meet with local and federal security officials in Kirkuk to discuss the situation. At the same time, the deployment of joint Peshmerga-Iraqi brigades in the region was delayed over political issues and is now set to move forward after Iraq’s parliamentary elections scheduled for October 10.
  • The KRG welcomed the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) unanimous decision to extend the mandate of the UN team investigating Da’esh’s crimes against humanity, including the Yazidi genocide, by one year. The extension, which was requested by the Government of Iraq (GOI), was complemented by UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ appointment of a German lawyer named Christian Ritscher as the mission’s new special adviser.

Syria 

  • The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced a Turkish drone strike and indirect fire attacks perpetrated by Turkey’s Islamist proxies killed four civilians in Dibis village, west of Ain Essa, on Friday. Turkish-backed fighters also shelled Manbij and the Christian town of Tal Tamer. Turkey and its Islamist allies began targeting senior SDF commanders and launching an increasing number of attacks on SDF-controlled areas in July.  
  • The SDF released 92 more Syrian families from al Hawl camp who were cleared of involvement with Da’esh or criminal activities. The released families are from Hasakah, Aleppo, Tabqa, and Deir Ez Zor and received sponsorship from Arab tribal leaders in northeastern Syria. That said, al Hawl continues to hold thousands of Da’esh operatives and their relatives, including many foreign citizens. On another note, the SDF reported its Anti-Terror Units (YAT), backed by the US-led coalition, captured 27 Da’esh terrorists responsible for bombings and assassinations in Tabqa. 

Turkey 

The Turkish government continues to crack down on Kurdish politicians and activists. On Monday, the fourth “Kobani Trial” against 108 politicians of the Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) resumed. Turkish authorities prevented journalists and observers from attending the hearing. The court will hold another session on September 23 despite multi requests by the HDP lawyers for further postponement due to health issues of the defendants. After six and half years of protests held by Turkish Kurds against the Da’esh attack on Syrian Kurds, the Turkish court of Ankara accepted the “Kobani Trial” from the prosecutor. Separately, a Turkish court in Aydin sentenced 8 Kurds to six years and three months for “membership of a terrorist organization.” Meanwhile, in a high-profile court session, the Kurdish politician and women’s rights activist, Rojbin Çetin, defended herself in Kurdish language and said, “I am a woman activist, a politician, a human rights defender. The work I carried out was legal work that I did in front of the public and the press. I demand to be acquitted.” The Turkish government accuses Çetin of affiliation with the PKK. The court postponed her hearing to November of this year. Furthermore, the HDP continued its public rallies to gather support before the resumption of the court hearing of its final case. “No matter what they do, they will not be able to prevent the HDP from using its power to bring peace, democracy, and freedom to this country. We will continue our struggle in the elections,” said HDP co-chair, Mithat Sancar.

Washington Kurdish institute

Sinews03

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