In Khanaqin district, Diyala province, 12 villages are fully abandoned and many people have left their farms in numerous other villages amid alleged ISIS attacks.
The alleged ISIS attacks, forcing people to abandon their villages, have emerged since the withdrawal of the Kurdish forces in the areas. Recently, ISIS insurgency has increased and has carried out multiple attacks against the Iraqi Forces, killing numerous soldiers.
Approximately 300 families have been displaced. Idris Ali was the last person among 20 families to leave his village in Khanaqin two years ago.
Ali said, “we could not stay anymore. Continuously, we were attacked and faced kidnapping… our orchards and agricultural lands were set on fire. We were forced to leave.”
Idris has rented a house in Garmian administration and lives there. He cannot return to his village, Silwani, and says, “I cannot defend alone and protect my village.”
I cannot defend alone and protect my village
Khanaqin Administration confirmed to KirkukNow that 12 villages are abandoned. People have left their agricultural lands and orchards.
Soran Ali Hassan, Khanaqin Mayor, stated, “crops and orchards of the villagers were burned and as a result they could not continue farming.”
Idris explained that leaving his village caused him to lose 120 million IQD ($100,000) and has not been compensated.
Most of the families have been displaced to the Khanaqin and others have moved to Garmian, Hassan mentioned.
“Abandoning the villages, beside harming the villagers, has disadvantaged people of Khanaqin too as they depended on the villages’ agricultural and animal products.
The mayor believes that redeployment of the Kurdish Peshmerga Forces to the areas is the solution.
“The withdrawal of the Peshmerga has created a big vacuum, resulting in ISIS insurgency,” he claimed, “the vacuum cannot be filled by the other forces.”
The vacuum cannot be filled by the other forces
Luqman Mohammed, who was a teacher at the school of Tapespi village and who moved to Kalar district, claimed, “every day our village was attacked. People were frustrated and afraid, so it was better to abandon it. They even kidnapped a child and released him in return for $90,000.”
Only in Mohammed’s village, 25 families have been displaced and have no hopes to return to their village.