NOHADRA, Iraq — Residents of several Christian villages in Nohadra (Duhok), northern Iraq, have been forced to leave their homes and villages as a result of Turkey’s nearly three-month military operations in the region.
Since mid-June, Turkey has engaged in a cross-border military operation ostensibly targeting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party which has been in armed conflict with the Turkish state since the 1980s. However, Turkish drone and air strikes have repeatedly targeted areas without a PKK presence, according to locals.
The repeated Turkish shelling have emptied a number of Christian villages along the Iraqi–Turkish border.
The village of Sharanesh has been hit several times by Turkish air strikes in the past two months, prompting the majority of the village’s residents to flee and leave their homes.
The residents of Sharanesh said that the Turkish shelling was not a one-off occurrence but happened regularly. Shelling on the outskirts of the village has resulted in the burning of acres of farmland and orchards.
Officials in the region say that the ongoing Turkish military operations have prevented the government from doing anything to bring people back to their villages and they are unable to rebuild their villages and make them habitable again.
In addition to these Christian villages, dozens of nearby villages on the border between North Iraq and Turkey were evacuated as a result of indiscriminate Turkish shelling.
Human Rights Watch has criticized Turkey for the carelessness of its military operation which has killed over a dozen civilians and displaced thousands more, many of whom are Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian Christians and Yezidis.