Iraq’s Kurdistan rejects Amnesty report on mass destruction of villages
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has strongly rejected a new report by the Amnesty International that Iraq’s Kurdish Peshmerga forces have intentionally razed thousands of Arab houses in areas under their control in the country’s north.
“When Peshmerga forces attacked Daesh-held Arab villages to liberate them, the residents of those villages, along with Daesh terrorists, confronted Peshmerga fighters and fought back,” said the head of the KRG Committee to Respond to International Reports, the Arabic-language al-Maalomah online newspaper reported. He added that a number of villagers and Peshmerga fighters were killed in the clashes, and some houses were also destroyed.
Dindar Zebari also said that the airstrikes carried out by the so-called US-led coalition and booby-traps planted by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the villages account for most of the casualties and damage in the residential areas.
In a Tuesday report, the UK-based Amnesty International said that the KRG with its Peshmerga fighters has intentionally “bulldozed, blown up and burned down” thousands of houses belonging to Arab communities in northern Iraq in an attempt to “uproot” their existence in Kurdish-held territories.
The report further said that KRG forces also barred “tens of thousands” of Arab civilians, who had fled from Daesh, from returning to recaptured areas, adding that forced displacement and deliberate destruction of property without justification, which occurred during the last two years, “may amount to war crimes.”
“Many of the displaced peoples have not returned to their homes due to lack of infrastructure, basic services, and damage caused to their homes” during the fight against Daesh, Zebari said, adding that “even Kurds have been prevented from returning to the liberated areas.”
He also said that if KRG had committed such crimes against civilians, it would not have let all the refugees and internally displaced persons move to the Kurdistan Region in the first place.
Zebari vowed to “officially respond” to the rights group’s report in the near future with a great amount of evidence.
Gruesome violence has plagued the northern and western parts of Iraq since Daesh launched its offensive and took control of parts of the country in June 2014.