MESOPOTAMIA NEWS REPORT : Iraqi KRG checkpoints part of crackdown on PKK

Turkish attacks on the PKK in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region have forced the KRG to increase checkpoints and security.

Kurdish riot police, some wearing protective masks due to COVID-19, stand guard during a demonstration to denounce the Turkish assault in northern Iraq, in Sulaimaniyah city, in the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Iraq, on June 18, 2020. Turkey launched a rare ground assault into northern Iraq on June 17, deploying special forces against rebels from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is blacklisted by Ankara as a “terrorist” group.

Joe Snell   al MONITOR  Nov 16, 2020

Maryam Shmoil thought it was unusual that she and her daughter were stopped on Nov. 6 from entering into Nahla Valley, a northern Iraqi region home to ethnic Assyrians. Shmoil owns a house in the area and said she travels from Erbil to Nahla nearly every weekend, but a new checkpoint was turning away visitors and limiting the amount of food and energy resources for locals.

The checkpoint joins a string of increased security measures by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to cut off resources to militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey, the European Union and Israel, among others. While the uptick in PKK activity includes attacks on peshmerga forces as militants from the group have been pushed further south into the KRG region, there has been increased harassment targeting locals.

“It’s my land and I don’t have the authority to go there with freedom,” Shmoil said. “We need to solve this problem. Not just the checkpoints, but also the challenge with the PKK there for many years. People there [do not have] any kind of human rights.”

The KRG has repeatedly asserted that the measures are aimed at bolstering security in the north in their defense against the PKK.
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