Turkey bombs Sinjar villages in Iraq where genocide survivors live

Three were injured in the airstrike on Tuesday, the third airstrike in two days.

A general view of the Yazidi refugee camp on Mount Sinjar (photo credit: KHALID AL MOUSILY / REUTERS)
A general view of the Yazidi refugee camp on Mount Sinjar
Turkey’s attacks on Syria and Iraq escalated on Tuesday as its warplanes bombed Sinjar two days in a row, striking at villages inhabited by the Yazidi minority. Yazidis survived the ISIS genocide, but they have been targeted in both Afrin in Syria, which Turkey invaded in January 2018, and in eastern Syria, where Turkey is carrying out an invasion against Kurdish fighters. Turkey claims it is fighting “terrorists,” but locals say airstrikes and attacks by Turkish-backed militants have caused civilians to flee.
Turkey claims it is operating against “security concerns,” but its attacks on Syria have led to 200,000 people fleeing, including 14,425 who had to flee all the way to Iraq and now live in refugee camps in the Kurdistan autonomous region. In Sinjar, Yazidis were subjected to genocide by ISIS in 2014, thousands of them being massacred and their bodies dumped in mass graves. In addition, 3,000 of them – mostly women and children kidnapped and enslaved by ISIS – are still missing.
Turkey did not operate to stop the genocide in 2014, and when ISIS occupied areas along its border near Tel Abyad, Ankara did not invade Syria. However, once members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units had helped save Yazidis and helped defeat ISIS in areas such as Kobane and Tel Abyad in northern Syria, Turkey invaded the area.
“Turkey bombed my village named Bara in Sinjar, Iraq this morning,” wrote Dawood Saleh on Facebook. “Turkey is destroying the wreckage that ISIS has left from our homes.”
Nadia Murad, a Yazidi genocide survivor who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018, wrote that “Turkey has bombed villages in northwest of Mount Sinjar. This is not an isolated incident; Turkey has repeatedly bombed the Sinjar region of Iraq. These acts of aggression pose immense danger to the population of Sinjar and deserve condemnation by the international community.”
Murad has called on the Iraqi government to help Yazidis, of which some 300,000 are still displaced, return home. She has asked the government to provide security and remove armed militias that operate in Sinjar, but the Iraqi government has not done so and now faces protests in Baghdad for its corruption and incompetence.
According to the Yazidi news site Ezidi Press, three were injured in the airstrike on Tuesday, which was the third airstrike in two days. According to activist Mirza Dinnayi, the Monday airstrike hit a private home in Khanasor, north of Sinjar near the Syrian border.
TURKEY BOMBED Sinjar in April 2017, claiming it was targeting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but killed Kurdish Peshmerga from a different Kurdish party. In August 2018, Turkey carried out an airstrike targeting Zeki Sengali, a PKK leader who was traveling from a commemoration at Kocho, site of the Yazidi genocide. A cemetery for PKK fighters was also hit by an airstrike.
In July 2019, Turkish airstrikes hit near a refugee camp at Makhmour in northern Iraq. Baghdad has complained to Ankara about the airstrikes in the past, but Turkey says it will continue. Iraq, according to the media outlet Kurdistan24, has sent dozens of letters of protest. Turkey also has thousands of soldiers in a dozen bases and outposts in northern Iraq, where it is fighting a low-level conflict against the PKK. It has expanded operations since 2015, when a ceasefire between the PKK and Turkey broke down.
In northern Syria, a Turkish joint patrol with Russia in Kobane came under protest by local civilians, who threw shoes and eggs, and cursed the patrol. Kobane was the scene of a huge battle with ISIS in 2014 and 2015 when the city was under siege. It was that battle that led the YPG to become well-known in its fight against ISIS and led the US to increase support for the YPG. Turkey viewed that support as the US working with the PKK and launched an invasion a month ago on October 9 to destroy the YPG along the border.
However, the impact of that attack has led to 200,000 people being displaced. A women’s collective called Jinwar was evacuated this week after shelling by Turkish-backed militants forced the women to flee. In addition, Christian villages along the Khabour River plain and other areas have felt threatened in Syria by Turkey’s offensive. Home to 20,000 people in 2015, now there are only 1,200, an activist said on Tuesday. Yazidis have also had to flee from Syria due to Turkey’s invasion. The international community has done nothing for Yazidis in Sinjar or Syria, or for any other minorities affected by the airstrikes and invasion.