Iraq: Christian village bombed by Turkish army

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Over the weekend of 16-17 January, Turkish troops bombed the Iraqi village of Sharanish, located on the border with Turkey, in the governorate of Dohuk, inhabited by Christians, Chaldeans and Assyrians. The bombings spread panic among the population, who were forced to flee to the city of Zakho during the night, in bitterly cold weather conditions and heavy snow.

The Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans, announced what had happened and has strongly condemned the Turkish military action, calling it “totally unjustified.” It has also appealed to the Iraqi Kurdistan autonomous government to take “the necessary measures to defend its citizens.”

The attack was carried out “under the pretext of the fight against the positions of the Kurdish PKK” the Patriarchate said in a statement.

In the 1980s, the town was completely devastated during the military campaigns carried out by the Iraqi army against the Kurds. After the end of Saddam Hussein’s regime some of the original Christian population had returned to live in the village, partly to escape the anti-Christian violence which was more frequent in the urban areas of Baghdad and Mosul.

The village is also home to dozens of new Christian families who fled from the Nineveh plain in 2014, before the advance of IS fighters.

Last August, Sharanish and other villages in the Qandil mountains inhabited by Christians were targets of air raids during the military operations carried out in that area by the Kurdish army against the Kurds of the PKK.