Turkish Military in Iraq & Syria

An internally displaced Kurdish family in northern Iraq, 2016 (Maranie R. Staab)

Belligerent
Turkish Military
Country
Iraq
start date
end date
Civilian Harm Status
Belligerent Assessment
Declassified Documents
Infrastructure

Incident Code

TI012

Incident date

March 22, 2018

Location

Villages in Choman district, Erbil, Iraq

Geolocation

36.637318, 44.890048 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Four civilians died and 10 more were injured in alleged Turkish airstrikes on villages in the Choman area of Iraqi Kurdistan, local sources reported. According to IC Afrin Resistance, the “Turkish army’s attacks and #TurkishWarCrimes are spreading: Yesterday night at 1:05 am Turkish air-forces bombarded villages in the district Qesre of Erbil (South #Kurdistan / Iraq). 4 civilians were killed due to the air-strikes.”

Hana Comani put the death toll at four with 10 more wounded. While most sources state that all four who died in the strike were civilians, a report by PDK-S detailed that the young men who perished were “Three Peshmerga and one lawyer”.

ANA reported: “Turkish military aircraft launched at 01:00 in the middle of last night raids on the villages of “Wassan, Sargan, and Mawa” near the town of Qusra in the district of Juman in the province of Holler. According to information received from the area, four civilians were killed during a ceremony in Nowruz.”

Additionally, a report by TRT said that “nine terrorists who were ready to attack a military base were eliminated in the ongoing airstrikes against PKK terrorist camps in northern Iraq.” It is unclear whether this is the same raid though the date and location match.

On April 27, 2020, the Christian Peacemaker Teams Iraqi Kurdistan (CPTIK) published an article interviewing the family members of four victims who were killed in the alleged Turkish strikes on the village of Sarkan. The victims were identified as Bezhan Mustafa, Mohammad Ismail, Darbaz Mohammad and Sherko Mahmud, all aged between 20 and 30 years old. According to CPTIK, two of the victims were cousins. Two of them graduated from law college and the other two were Peshmerga.

The men went to their summer house, where they, according to neighbours, “made a fire, grilled meat on the hot coals, and sang joyous songs”. The strike on Sarkan reportedly occured around 1:15 AM. A village elder told CPTIK: “When I arrived, I saw pieces of their burned bodies spread around, mixed with shreds of blankets and fragments of the house. I could not even recognize the bodies. I then collected the remnants and put them in the back of the pickup truck.”

Bezhan’s father told CPTIK that the men “were in no way connected to the PKK”.

The incident occured at 01:15:00 local time.

The victims were named as:

20 years old male killed
Adult male killed
Adult male killed
Adult male killed

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Villages in Choman district, for which the generic coordinates are: 36.637318, 44.890048. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Civilians reported injured
    10
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (9) [ collapse]

  • A victim of Turkish airstrikes on villages in Choman area, east of Irbil, 22nd March 2018. (via Haval sedo)
  • A victim of Turkish airstrikes on villages in Choman area, east of Irbil, 22nd March 2018. (via Haval sedo)
  • A victim of Turkish airstrikes on villages in Choman area, east of Irbil, 22nd March 2018. (via PDK)
  • A victim of Turkish airstrikes on villages in Choman area, east of Irbil, 22nd March 2018. (via PDK)
  • A victim of Turkish airstrikes on villages in Choman area, east of Irbil, 22nd March 2018. (via PDK)
  • A victim of Turkish airstrikes on villages in Choman area, east of Irbil, 22nd March 2018. (via PDK)
  • Victims of the Turkish airstrikes on villages in Choman area, east of Irbil, 22nd March 2018. (via Kamal Chomani)
  • Victims of the Turkish airstrikes on villages in Choman area, east of Irbil, 22nd March 2018. (via Kamal Chomani)
  • Victims of the Turkish airstrikes on villages in Choman area, east of Irbil, 22nd March 2018. (via Turkey Untold)

Turkish Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Military
  • Turkish Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Civilians reported injured
    10
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI020

Incident date

December 13, 2018

Location

مخمور, Makhmour refugee camp, Erbil, Iraq

Geolocation

35.761235, 43.604991 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Four women were killed in alleged Turkish airstrikes on the Rustam Jodi refugee camp in Makhmour, south of Erbil on December 13th 2018, according to local media reports.

Rustom Joudi, the governor of Rastam Jodi camp, said that the Turkish shelling, which took place at 21:00 on Thursday, killed four women, three of them from one family, and were shelled while they went to their campsites.

The Turkish Army Chief of Staff announced that its warplanes bombed the positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Sinjar and Mount Qora Gokh, in the district of Makhmour. The presidency added that “The Turkish army destroyed the shelters, caches, tunnels and warehouses of the Workers Party in an air operation on the organization’s sites in Sinjar and Mount Qara Gokh.”

According to Shaffaq News “Prior to the funeral ceremony, hundreds of people had gone to the UN headquarters to push them to take a serious and concrete stance on Turkish bombing.”

No other details are known at this time.

The incident occured at 21:00:00 local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4
  • (4 women)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Funeral of the victims of an alleged Turkish airstrike on Makhmour, 22nd December 2018. (via Shafaaq)

Turkish Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Military
  • Turkish Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4
  • (4 women)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI017

Incident date

August 15, 2018

Location

سنجار , Sinjar, Nineveh, Iraq

Geolocation

36.318611, 41.861111 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A former leader (Zaki Shankali) of the PKK in Sinjar reportedly died along with four Yazidi people in alleged Turkish airstrikes on their convoy in Sinjar at 5 p.m on August 15th, according to sources on the ground.

The combat status of the Yazidi people is in question, however, as one source referred to them as fighters. A further source added that the shelling also hit a car, wounding an unspecified number of civilians.

Rudaw reported: “‘The bombardment of the Sinjar district resulted in the death of the commander of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Sinjar and four fighters from the Sinjar resistance units,’ said the former leader of the Sinjar resistance units and the Lalash Brigades, Ali Ali, on Wednesday, 15 August 2018.’

Almaaolomah reported that a source told them that  “the Turkish air force bombed a convoy of troops in villages oin the outskirts of Sinjar district west of Nineveh.
The source added that the the bombing resulted in the death of the leader of Bbakka Mam Zaki and a number of Iraqi Yazidis who were with him”.

Rojnews reported that “the shelling also targeted a car in the area and injured all civilian passengers.”

The incident occured at 17:00:00 local time.

The victims were named as:

Zaki Shinkali
Adult male Listed as a former leader of PKK killed

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the city of Sinjar (سنجار ), for which the generic coordinates are: 36.318611, 41.861111. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 5
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–4
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • Zaki Shinkali, a former leader of the PKK, killed in an alleged Turkish airstrike on Sinjar, Aug 15th (via Adarpress)
  • The remains of the convoy alleged struck by Turksih jets in Sinjar, Aug 15th (via Rudaw)
  • The remains of the convoy alleged struck by Turksih jets in Sinjar, Aug 15th (via Rudaw)

Turkish Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Military
  • Turkish Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 5
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–4
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI010

Incident date

September 20, 2017

Location

دهوك, Dohuk, Duhok, Iraq

Geolocation

36.865292, 42.991828 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

The Kurdistan Regional Government said that seven civilians were killed by Turkish airstrikes on Dohuk village.

Skyiraq reported: “The air strikes launched by the Turkish warplanes targeted areas in the province of Dohuk and killed seven civilians.”

The government said in a statement that while the citizens were going to do their work on their farms, the warplanes bombed those areas as they were targeting PKK positions.”

Rwa.adiona published a similar story.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Dohuk (دهوك), for which the generic coordinates are: 36.865292, 42.991828. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    7
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Turkish Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Military
  • Turkish Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    7
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI002

Incident date

August 1, 2015

Location

زرجيلي, Zergele, Sulaymaniyah, Iraq

Geolocation

36.063457, 45.332963 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Multiple Turkish airstrikes reportedly killed eight or more residents and injured at least eight others – including a child – in an attack on the village of Zergele in the Kandil Mountains.

Alusmaria reported: “Turkish planes today bombed the village of Zergele north of the border, killing eight civilians, wounding ten others and destroying seven houses.”

Rudaw said ten civilians died and eleven were injured.

All Iraq News wrote that 22 houses were destroyed in the attack.

Amnesty International later concluded that none of the dead or injured were affiliated to the PKK: “Evidence gathered during a visit by Amnesty International to the village of Zergele three days after the airstrikes suggests all those killed and injured in the attack were not affiliated with the PKK. Amnesty International spoke to several eyewitnesses, including two doctors who rescued the wounded and three residents who consistently said that none of the dead or injured were PKK fighters and that there were no PKK fighters in the area. Those killed included a local mayor and two municipality workers.

All the witnesses who were present at the time of the attack or arrived there shortly afterwards said that the victims wore civilian clothes and that they saw no weapons on the scene. Amnesty International reviewed 10 photographs and one video from the scene that were consistent with these witness statements.”

The international NGO also added the following: “The apparent absence of a military target within the vicinity of the airstrikes suggests that these strikes are unlawful whether or not there is an armed conflict between the Turkish authorities and the PKK. The Turkish government has displayed a flagrant disregard for the lives of local residents and failed to take necessary precautions to minimize harm to them, or to discriminate between them and PKK fighters.”

While early reporting put the numbers of dead between six and ten, eight killed and eight injured is the figure used by Amnesty and other sources.

The Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraqi Kurdistan (CPTIK) collected testimonies of witnesses. In a Youtube-video, Jegir, an eyewitness, says: “There were two different planes: a drone and an aeroplane. They were circling the Qandil area. 20 minutes after the first attack, when we were trying to take the dead bodies about 30 metres away, we heard the explosions from the second attack. We could not do anything, people separated and tried to hide. There were four rockets in the second attack. I ran one hundred meters in 30 seconds to get away. Then, there were four more rockets in a third attack.”

Jegir’s uncle Mohammed Amin was severely injured. In his testimony to CPTIK, Mohammed Amin tells how his mother was killed in the airstrike: “When we tried to carry our mum’s body away, the bombing started again.” Besides his mother, Amin also lost his son, two cousins and another relative.

A Peshmerga fighter who was also interviewed stated that his phone rang at exactly 3:50 AM with the news that his mother had been killed in the attack.

The incident occured between 3:00 am and 5:00 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

Mohamed Ameen
Adult male Peshmerga injured
Sinur
Adult female Sister in law of Mohamed injured

Family members (4)

Gerbet Ahmed
Adult female injured
Shukariya Ahmed
Adult female Sister of Gerbet injured
Khadija
Adult female Mother of Gerbet and Shukariya injured
Chilan Rasheed
Child female Niece of Gerbet and Shukariya injured

The victims were named as:

Ayesha Ahmed Mustafa
Adult female killed
Salih Mohamed Ameen
Adult male Local mayor killed
Heybet Mohamed Ameen
Age unknown male killed
Najeeb Aziz
Age unknown male killed
Sama Khabat
Age unknown male Municipality worker killed
Endomen Sharawonch
Age unknown male Municipality worker killed
Karoh Mohamed Ameen
Adult male Identified as peshmerga by Amnesty killed
Abdulkader Bakr
Adult male Identified as peshmerga by Amnesty killed

Geolocation notes

Location of Zergele (via TRT)

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    8 – 10
  • (1 child2 women5–7 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    8–11
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • Turkish air strikes on August 1st in Zergele kill local residents according to a video published by Amnesty
  • 'Aftermath of airstrike in the village of Zergele, in the Kandil Mountains in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on 1 August 2015' (via Amnesty International)
  • Investigation of a reported strike location at Zergele (Image from ANF via Amnesty)

Unknown Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Unknown
  • Unknown position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    8 – 10
  • (1 child2 women5–7 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    8–11
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown

Sources (7) [ collapse]