MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief May 3, 2022

A weekly brief of events occurred in the Kurdistan regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey

  • Unidentified militants struck a refinery owned by the Kurdish oil company Kar Group in Erbil Governorate’s Khabat District with six rockets late Sunday. The attack caused no casualties but set fire to one of the refinery’s main storage tanks. Iraq’s Security Media Cell denounced the attack and blamed it on “criminal gangs.” The Kurdistan Security Council said the rockets were launched from Ninewa Governorate’s al Hamdaniya District, and Iraqi security forces seized the launcher several hours after the attack. The US, UK, and United Nations (UN) also denounced the attack, and Iranian-backed militias remain the prime suspects, as Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) struck the home of the Kar Group’s owner, Baz Karim Barzinji, with ballistic missiles on March 13. Sunday’s attack came a day after Barzinji demanded material and moral compensation for the March 13 attack that caused extensive property damage. Barzinji’s demands came after the Council of Representatives of Iraq’s investigative committee refuted Iran’s claim it struck an Israeli base and ordered the Iraqi government to take “all measures that preserve the dignity and status of Iraq via diplomatic channels to prevent the recurrence of any attack on Iraqi territory.”
  • The Iraqi army clashed with the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) near the Sinjar District’s Sinuni subdistrict. A senior Iraqi official claimed one Iraqi soldier and 13 YBS fighters were killed during the hostilities, though hundreds of Yazidis were also forced to flee to Duhok. Several pro-YBS sources claimed the Iraqi army attacked the region with “heavy weapons and tanks.” The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) voiced “concerns” regarding the displacement of Yazidi civilians, who suffered genocide at the hands of ISIS (Da’esh) and have been deprived of government services and security since 2014, and said, “Domestic and external spoilers have no place in Sinjar.” The Iraqi government demands the YBS, an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), leave the area as part of the implementation of the Sinjar agreement between Baghdad and Erbil. Separately, Turkish airstrikes targeted Duhok Governorate’s Amedi District and struck several villages in the province.


  • Turkey and its proxies shelled parts of northwestern Syria and areas near Ain Essa and Tal Tamer. Simultaneously, in Manbij, a pro-Turkish sniper killed a 27-year-old man named Hamoud al Khamis, while local security forces announced they shut down a Turkish “suicide drone.” Concomitantly, Turkish proxies kidnapped three Kurds named Manan Bilal Hamo, Dian Bilal Hamo, and Ramzi Rushdi Hamo in occupied Afrin. Lastly, a Kurdish official said Turkish authorities have been withholding water from al Hasakah since 2019 and that the most recent drought was caused by a lack of electricity at the Alouk water station.
  • Two Syrian men survived a Da’esh assassination attempt in al Hol camp. Al Hol continues to hold thousands of Da’esh operatives and their relatives and remains plagued by a string of murders, assaults, and escape attempts.


  • Iranian authorities released several Kurdish activists who were arrested for organizing Newroz celebrations on bail last week. That said, the Iranian regime arrested seven labor activists in Baneh and a prominent activist named Osman Ismael in Saqqez days before International Workers’ Day, which falls on May 1. Moreover, Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) warned several labor activists not to participate in International Workers’ Day activities. Separately, Iranian authorities arrested three Kurdish teachers, Shabaan Mohamadi, Askander Lotfi, and Massoud Nikekha, in Marivan on Sunday.
  • Iranian security forces killed a Kurdish border porter (kolbar) named Safar Sobhan and wounded five in Kermanshah Province’s Nowsud District on Saturday. Iranian border guards wounded seven other kolbars in the same area during the past week. Four kolbars died, and at least 51 were injured in April.


  • Hundreds of Kurds rallied in Diyarbakir (Amed) on International Workers’ Day and chanted, “We will change together.” Numerous political figures, including some from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), participated in the rally. Turkish police arrested at least 160 people for holding a similar rally on the same day in Istanbul. Meanwhile, former HDP lawmaker Hilal Aksoy was sentenced to one year in prison for calling Kurds killed by the Turkish government “our martyrs” during a 2009 speech. Though the case against Aksoy was initially closed in 2009, a pro-Turkish government prosecutor named Celal Kara reopened it last year.
  • The HDP released a statement denouncing Iraq’s military operation against the Yazidis. “The Tension that is intended to be created in Shingal does not help anyone and the damage is suffered by all the people in the region. These attacks darken the future of the peoples and hinder social peace,” read the statement. On another note, HDP Co-chair Pervin Buldan criticized the Turkish government for Turkey’s ongoing economic issues. “The government thrives on constant crises and conflicts and exports wars to Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East to further destabilize the region and deprive the population,” said Buldan.