Christian Homes in Danger as Turkish Forces Aim for Northern Iraq

Photo by Levi Clancy on Unsplash

About one month ago, in June 2020, the Turkish military initiated Operation Claw-Tiger targeting members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) located in Northern Iraq, where some hundreds of PKK bases are located. Turkey’s Ministry of Defense, while remaining quiet about the number of Turkish troops were involved in the operation, has revealed just how extensive the initiative was: F-16 jets, helicopters, drones, and artillery were the primary weapons used in this “first-ever airborne and land offensive.”

According to Al Jazeera, Turkey’s Defense Ministry has been proud of this initiative which had eliminated 500 designated PKK targets in 36 hours- a day and a half-in what the Iraqi Joint Operations Command has called a “provocative action.” In fact, the JOC released a statement following the Operation, stating “We deplore the penetration of Iraqi airspace by the Turkish planes which- at a depth of 193km from the Turkish border inside the Iraqi airspace- targeted a refugee camp near Makhmour and Sinjar,” and that “we stress that Turkey must stop its bombardment and withdraw its attacking forces from Iraqi territory.”

The Joint Operations Command has not been the only entity pleading for the Turkish military to stop its vengeful assault against PKK: in late June, Iraqi Christians expressed fear at the expansion of the Turkish Operation into predominantly-Christian Dohuk province. According to Middle East Concern:

“The Zakho district has about 20 Christian villages, housing approximately 12,000 people. In the first days of July two of these villages were completely evacuated because of the bombardment and fighting. People have fled to the centre of the district and other safe areas. Although there are no reported injuries among Christians, they, like their Kurdish neighbors, suffer great economic losses, having left behind their fruit farms.”

Christians in Northern Iraq have requested that the international human rights and religious freedom communities pray for the alleviation of conflict in Kurdish and Christian areas as a result of the Turkish military operation, and that these vulnerable communities will continue to remain safe and find solace in the word of God.