Despite the PKK’s departure from Sinjar, the Turkish military is continuing to advance on the northern Iraqi-Kurdistan border and the airstrikes and artillery bombardment has only intensified. Now soldiers have set-up forward operations outposts atop of eight separate mountains in the region this past week just north of Erbil. The Turkish army is roughly 20 kilometers inside of Kurdistan’s border at this point. Despite this development, the Iraqi army nor the Peshmerga have responded militarily. Shapan, Kawet, Dilan, Bane, Alakan, Chiasor, and Chiyanaya are the mountains to which troops have been deployed according to Kurdistan locals.

Peshmerga part of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) are stationed only a few kilometers away in Sidakan, a city only 90 kilometers from Erbil near the border. While there has been no fighting or history of conflict between them and Turkey, several other political affiliates who have voiced their opposition of the nation reside in the area as well. Turkish began pushing into Kurdistan on March 10th in an attempt to combat the PKK militants residing in the region. Roads have been developed to accomodate further deployments of troops to the outposts according to local Kurdish media. Many Kurdish villagers from the area have fled in the wake of the bombardments.

Sidaka’s mayor, Ihsan Chalabi, told local media that, “Over the past 24 hours, the Turkish army has advanced 6 kilometers into the Kurdistan Region territories. Advances are ongoing on a daily basis.” The Turkish military and the PKK have claimed to have killed many of the opposing members soldiers but neither has reported their casualties count. While the PKK headquarters is in Qandil, many of there forces were previously stationed in Sinjar before departing at the request of local residents for fear of being targeted.

 The threat against Sinjar was made very clear by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to the incursion. Iraq was given the ultimatum, remove the PKK or Turkey would do it for them. Erdogan stated, “We do not ask for permission from anyone, nor do we look into anyone’s eyes for all this. You may hear new goals at any moment.”
 The Kurdish Regional Governments Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, has addressed the Turkish incursion. Last week soon after the outposts were established he said, “As the Kurdistan Region, we have a principle. Our principle is that the territories of the Kurdistan Region must in no way be used to attack, to cause violence against our neighbors. This policy as a principle stands the same for Turkey, Iran or Syria. We do not accept, nor do we allow the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to be used to cause violence in those countries.” In reference to the PKK and its attacks against the Turkish military from within Kurdistan, he said, “It is not acceptable for the PKK to launch military operations from the territories of Kurdistan, and then return to the Kurdistan Region.” The conflict between the PKK and Turkey has been going on for about 40 years; the PKK seeks to improve cultural, political, and Kurdish civil rights in Turkey.

Photo courtesy of the Author