Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More border families flee as tensions mount between Iraq, Turkey

Hundreds have already fled their homes along the Iraq-Turkey border as tensions mount between Turkish-Kurdish rebels and the Turkish army. The exodus is now escalating in the wake of Sunday’s cross-border ambush, IRIN, a U.N. humanitarian news service, reported Tuesday.

Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq on Sunday killed at least 17 Turkish soldiers in a cross-border ambush, placing added pressure on Ankara to initiate military action in Iraq.

“It will be a disaster. Families living near the border are usually [poor] and are being forced to flee their homes, carrying a single bag and leaving behind a history and the comfort of a family to an unknown destiny,” Kalif Dirar, a senior official in the Kurdistan regional government, said.

Dirar said that families are scared since the killing of the Turkish soldiers, and the kidnapping of eight others by the Kurdish rebels, caused more panic among the locals. They now fear a response by the Turkish military, he said.

“We have recorded more than 3,000 individuals traveling from villages near the border to areas near Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk,” Dirar said.

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