The Dawn Tuz Khurmatu Fell
Killings and Human Rights Abuses

October 26, 2017 at 7:12 pm

Smokes rises from inside Tuz Khormato (photograph: Dlshad Anwar, 16 October 2017)


Civilians of Tuz Khurmatu, who caught up in house-to-house fighting between Iraqi army and Peshmarga forces, have suffered the most as the town again became the frontline of the ongoing conflict between Iraqi central government and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The attack by Iraqi forces on the district of Tuz Khurmatu has resulted in the deaths of several civilians and looting and destruction of the property of the Kurdish residents, according to an investigation by a team of KirkukNow reporters.

The Kurdish civilians in Tuz Khurmatu fled their homes in the early hours of 16th of October, 2017 as the Iraqi forces clashed with the Kurdish Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Tuz Khurmatu, 74 km south of Kirkuk, is a multi-ethnic and disputed town in Saladin Province, Iraq, which has a population of around 180,000 people including Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds.

The displaced people of Tuz Khurmatu are currently living in difficult conditions and need humanitarian assistance. That night Shamil Mahmoud, 65, was uneasy and could hear heavy clashes. “I wanted to know what was happening, I was thinking should I leave or should I stay!” Mahmoud told KirkukNow.

That night Shamil did not sleep and wanted to know whether the fighting would end.

From 12 mid night until 5am the Peshmerga fought hard but then everything changed and people started fleeing. “I could see bodies in the streets, we were being shot at from our own neighbourhood,” said Shamil who left the town at 6:10am with his children.

Tuz Khurmatu / October 16/ civilian house blazing Photo: Tuz Khurmatu Media Dept.

Tuz Khurmatu: October 16: civilian house blazing: Photo: Tuz Khurmatu Media Dept.

Tuz Khurmatu one of the disputed areas between Baghdad and Erbil was the first district that fell to the Iraqi forces after Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi ordered his troops to retake the disputed territories from the Kurdish forces.

“The sound of gunfire and smoke had covered the sky over Tuz Khurmatu, we were moving very slowly, Kurdish neighbourhoods were being fired upon arbitrarily,” said Shamil. “I thought this is the day we’ll all die.”

One of the people who lost his life that day was Sami Ahmad father of four who had taken up arms to protect the Kurdish areas. He lost his life that day. “It was around 5am when shooting intensified and my husband went outside to see what is happening, and suddenly I heard a cry from the street ‘Sami is killed’” said Sami Ahmad’s wife Khawla Majid, 31.

“At that time one of my sisters came in and said we have to leave and I saw my husband’s body but I had no option and left to save my four children.” The children aged between 4 to 10 years of age are now asking for their father’s because they still don’t know what had happened to their father.”

Two have fallen ill due to the cold weather. “I lost my husband and i have been told my house is also burnt, all I want is for my children not to be hungry.”

Tuz Khurmatu: 19-10-2017: IDPs of Tuz Khurmatu relocated in Nawjul Sub-District north-east of the town: Photo: Ali Mahmud

According to Mohammad Fayeq spokesperson for the district says that 11 Peshmerga have been killed but rejects any civilians were killed in the fighting. “There are four missing and we don’t know what had happened to them.”

Popular Mobolisation Forces (PMF) released 37 Peshmerga on 17th of October who were taken prisoner during the fighting the day before.

Kurdish civilians fleeing the fighting reported looting and destruction of property. On the 18th, Ataf Najar the head of Badir called on residents of Tuz Khurmatu to stop looting.

Ali Hashem Husseini, the spokesperson for Hashd Al-Shabi in Tuz Khurmatu says all the statistics are not true and some properties have been damaged due to fighting and Peshmerga shelled Turkmen areas too.

The town has 16 neighbourhoods; among them, three Kurdish neighbourhoods and two mixed neighbourhoods between Kurds and Turkmen suffered most as a result of the fighting.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan the main Kurdish party in the area has asked for a joint investigation into the allegations of looting and destruction of property.

The United Nations said on 19th of October accused the armed groups of burning nearly 150 houses and blowing up 11 more properties in the district.

Zhino Khalil, Layla Ahmed, Ali Mahmud contributed to this report





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