Tuz Khormato: Killing and human rights abuses on October 16

October 26, 2017 at 7:12 pm

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

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

The Kurdish civilians in Tuz Khormato fled their homes in the early hours of 16th of October as the Iraqi forces clashed with the Kurdish peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The displaced people of Tuz Khormato 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 Khormato 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. “The sound of gunfire and smoke had covered the sky over Tuz Khormato, 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 happeneing, 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 dont 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.”

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 Badr called on residents of Tuz Khormato to stop looting. Ali Hashem Husseini the spokesperson for Hashd Shabi in Tuz Khormato says all the statistics are not true and some properties have been damaged due to fighting and peshmerga shelled Turkmen areas too.

Tuz Khormato has a population of around 180,000 people and are consisted of Arabs, Turkmen and 60,000 Kurds. The town has 16 neighbourhoods and three Kurdish neighbourhoods and two mixed neighbourhoods suffered most as a result of the fighting. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan the main kurdish part y in the are 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.

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