PKK Expanding Activities in Sulaymaniyah and Halabja Provinces – They have set up unofficial customs offices and imposed taxes on locals in several villages across the area

Hemin Salih –  14 June 2016 – SULAYMANIYAH — Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) continues expanding its military influence across Sulaymaniyah and Halabja districts of Kurdistan Region throughout military training bases and youth centers.

A security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the presence of PKK checkpoints, military bases and unofficial customs offices, and revealed that in several areas, including Chamchamal and Chami Rezan, the PKK has established military bases through which they recruit and train youths under 16. According to the source, the PKK is charging unofficial trades between Kurdistan Region and Iranian Kurdistan, and it is running nearly 20 customs offices along the border. Head of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) branch office in Halabja, Sheikh Hasan Abdullah, told BasNews that PKK is active in the area and they have previously seen teenagers waving PKK flag during demonstrations and public gatherings. “They [PKK] have recently imposed and collected taxes in the rural areas of Halabja, but they regularly moving from one are to another,” Abdullah said.

Fazil Basharati, a Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official in Halabja, said the PKK’s activities are obvious in the area, and they have unofficial offices in Halbjah working to recruit locals, including underage people. However, a Kurdish MP from Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) insists that no official authority in Kurdistan Region has yet confirmed this wide-range presence of PKK; “but it is not an odd incident that PKK establishes [youth] centers and runs training courses wherever it is present.”