ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – In addition to the civilian casualties and displacement caused by ongoing military clashes between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) playing out within the Kurdistan Region’s border districts, Turkish bombing is also severely disrupting local agriculture and making it near impossible for farmers to make a living.
The PKK is engaged in a decades-long insurgency against Turkey over Kurdish rights and self-rule that has resulted in the death of over 40,000 people on both sides. The group is headquartered in the Kurdistan Region’s Zagros Mountains, along the Turkish and Iranian borders.
In recent years, Turkey has carried out military operations against PKK fighters based in the Kurdistan Region with continued regularity, with troops sometimes crossing into the region up to 20 kilometers deep to target the guerilla group.
Since Turkey launched its latest intensified bombing campaign in mid-June, five civilians have been killed by Turkish airstrikes, the most recent of which occurred on Friday.
Turkish bombardment also routinely causes extensive damage to residences, farms, and killed locals’ livestock.
Farmers from more than 90 villages in Duhok province’s Zakho district alone have seen this year’s crops ruined because Turkish bombing has disrupted their ability to tend to, harvest, or market fruits and vegetables on which their livings depend.
“Now cucumbers are ready to be collected, but farmers cannot go to their farms,” a fruit wholesaler told Kurdistan 24 in Batifa subdistrict on Saturday, adding, “There’s a fear among them.”
Ammar Yousif, who owns a farm and small produce shop, said, “If I tell you that I have not sold a kilogram [of fruit today], you will not believe me,” explaining that the bombing also scares away would-be customers from the area.
“Previously, at this time [noon], I would earn nearly 70 to 80 thousand Iraqi dinars ($50-60) from selling fruit.”
Residents of such areas, as well as the KRG, have long called on the Turkish military and the PKK to take their fighting elsewhere.
Editing by John J. Catherine
Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 Correspondent Islam Yousif