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No friends in the mountains (2021)
Civilians under fire in Iraqi Kurdistan, as Turkey fights PKK with drones - Text by Bart von Laffert

Mamost’s life was turned upside on June afternoon when he was driving down Qandil mountains, in Iraqi Kurdistan. A buzz and then, the explosion: his car was hit by a drone. In the explosion, he lost his father, his sister and his brother. Almost nothing remained of their bodies.

Ally is just one of thousands civilians caught in the crossfire between Turkey and the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which Turkey, the EU and the US classify as a terrorist organisation). Since the end of the ceasefire in 2015, the conflict  has escalated in the Kurdish areas of Northern Iraq were the PKK established its bases decades ago.

The employment of drones (produced in Turkey, but thanks to the contribution of German and EU companies) is controversial. They are a necessary tool a necessary tool in the fight against terrorism, according to Turkey. A weapon that is aimed primarily at the civilians, according to the local population.

The NGO Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) has documented more than 100 murdered civilians. Tens of thousands were displaced. More than 400 villages had to be evacuated. Hundreds of square kilometres of farmland were destroyed. Adapting to this new warfare is proving impossible for locals: “Attacks are just unpredictable”, says the Zewkha’s mukhtar, a village that in 2019 was hit 27 times over one night in 2019. Many locals are persuaded it is part of the Turkish strategy to instil fears: “They are attacking us just because we are Kurds: they want us to leave or to die", says one of the eldest.

Featured by: Amnesty Germany, Millenium FQ, Profil Taz, SWR2

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