Displaced Kurds Told Hometown Unsafe for Them to Return; 22 Killed in Iraq

According to Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement, at least 120,000 people were displaced from Kirkuk and Tuz Khormato. The Joint Crisis Coordination Center reported an even higher number of refugees. The organization, which is part of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Interior, believes close to 170,000 Kurds fled the fighting.

In the case of Tuz Khormato, the militias may be on a campaign of ethnically cleansing the city of Kurds. At the very least, reports of Turkmen militias exacting revenge appear to be accurate. After Tuz Khormato was liberated from the Islamic State militants in 2014, Turkmen and Kurdish residents turned on it each other. The city was so plagued by violence, that residents began to separate themselves into ethnic enclaves for their safety.

A member of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (K.D.P.I.), Mohamad Nazif Qader, reported that Shi’ite militiamen were noted moving closer to the city of Taqtaq, which is not far from Altun Kupri, but within the borders of official Kurdistan. The K.D.P.I. is an Iranian Kurdish opposition party. The obvious fear is that the Iranian-backed militia forces may be seeking Iranian Kurds who fled to Kurdistan. Iraqi troops were also reported moving north of Altun Kupri towards the Kurdistan border just a few miles away.

Bafel Talabani said that the withdrawal from Kirkuk of Peshmerga troops loyal to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (P.U.K.) was necessary because about 100 lives had already been lost. Talabani is the son of the former Iraqi president and head of the P.U.K.  Jalal Talabani, who died earlier this month.

At least 22 were killed and 11 were wounded in recent violence:

Militants in Hammam al-Alil killed a woman and her two sons, who were tribal fighters.

Near Sinjar, a booby-trapped home was triggered, killing two people and wounding two more, all from the same family.

An attack left one policeman dead and four wounded in Shorja.

The Iraqi military reported that two soldiers were killed and five were wounded during the battle at Altun Kupri. A video made its way across social media, purportedly showing a sniper shot killing a militiaman after the battle was over.

In Mosul, an airstrike killed eight militants.

Four militants were killed in Tal Safuk.

A suicide bomber was killed in Salah ad Din province.

Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has been covering Iraqi casualties for Antiwar.com since 2006.