Makhmur Villages Appeal for Kurdish Help Against Islamic Extremists
By RUDAW – 23-12-2013 – Makhmur police chief, Nadir Shakir Harki, echoed the people’s concerns, saying: “A force is needed to be deployed in the area and a study is underway for this purpose.”
MAKHMUR, Kurdistan Region – Residents of rural areas around the town of Makhmur, which lies in disputed lands south of Erbil, complain that armed Islamic groups are on the rise in their regions and appeal for protection from the autonomous Kurdistan Region.
“We ask the Kurdish leadership to dispatch a force to the area,” a villager told Rudaw. “Even the Arab Sheikhs demand the deployment of Peshmarga forces from the Kurdistan Region to protect them.” The villagers say that members of the extremist militant Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) come to the area from across Iraq’s Sunni provinces.
Makhmur, 67 kilometers south of Erbil, is a majority-Kurdish town, but the wider area is also home to Arab herders and farmers. Makhmur police chief, Nadir Shakir Harki, echoed the people’s concerns, saying: “A force is needed to be deployed in the area and a study is underway for this purpose.”
In a recent bombing in Qudila village, two policemen were killed and a dozen homes were destroyed. Intelligence sources say that when Iraqi security forces pursue insurgents further south in Tikrit and Mosul, they escape to villages near Makhmur, where they find a safe haven. The villagers told Rudaw that the newly-arrived militants harass the local population, especially Arab villagers who work with the Kurdish population.
According to data obtained by Rudaw, since April militants have killed 29 Arab villagers who had joined the ranks of the Kurdish Peshmarga forces, the police and government institutions. Many others have been forced to quit their jobs, fearing for their lives.
“The security situation has worsened completely and we ask the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) to find a solution and prevent the evacuation of the villages,” said another villager, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
Until 2003, Makhmur and its surrounding areas were under the jurisdiction of the central Iraqi government as part of Nineveh province.
However, since the Kurds have been in control of the town, most of the area remains outside the control of Erbil and Baghdad, because they lie within the stretch of disputed territories that both sides claim. Locals say that several villages are at risk of being completely deserted by residents, and that some schools have already been closed. Teachers refuse to go to the villages for fear of their lives. Several years ago, Iraqi and Kurdish forces patrolled the area jointly with US troops. But since the American withdrawal two years ago, both sides are hesitant to deploy troops to the area for fear of causing a confrontation. – See more at: http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/221220131#sthash.VaiCz8w8.dpuf