- Title: IRAQ: Iraqi border villages deserted as tensions with Turkey escalate
- Date: 24th October 2007
- Summary: TURKISH BASE AFTER FIRING A SHELL MILITARY BASE IN MOUNTAIN RANGE AIRCRAFT IN SKY
- Embargoed: 8th November 2007 12:00
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA7BY35JK5E2C8JOJHR5U1LKLGI
- Story Text: A row of smart houses lie empty in the Iraqi village of Parakhyea, close to the border with Turkey.
Families have fled, saying they have endured days of shelling and air bombardment by the Turkish military.
For many of the Kurdish residents it's a situation they know only too well from past experience.
Some remember fleeing their homes in 1976 when Saddam Hussein's forces destroyed their village. They left the Iraqi capital Baghdad in 2003 when U.S.
forces invaded, and then quit the northern city of Mosul in early 2006 as violence there escalated.
Twenty-eight-year-old Fadhil Salim lives in Parakhyea with his parents and seven children. He says they all fled to nearby villages when the Turkish airforce launched attacks. He's returned to tend to their crops of tomatoes, melons and pomegranates.
"Even two minutes ago they bombed near the village" he says, "no one can stay in the village but because we still have land I came back to get some fruit and vegetables for the market."
There are two small craters in the road winding down the valley to the settlement. The valley is eerily silent.
High above, two fighter planes trace straight white streaks across the sky before disappearing over distant ridges.
Residents say they have never seen fighters of the outlawed Kurdish separatist guerrilla group, the PKK, in the area and suspect the Turkish shelling is designed to frighten them into leaving their homes.
High on a hill across the river there is a Turkish tank and a Turkish flag painted on the mountainside.
The village is made up of Iraqi Catholics and was completely rebuilt in the past two years by the regional government.
A new yellow church with a red roof stands nearby, awaiting its first priest.
A few miles back from the border is another new village of 24 lilac, green and salmon-pink houses. Deshtatakh is also deserted.
Goreal Weuda, who is 56, says they have no relations with the PKK and don't want them in the area.
"It's their problem. It's not our problem. They have to deal with each other and solve the problem between themselves." he said.
The inhabitants of the village, a 90 km (55 miles) drive from Dahuk over winding mountain passes with fabulous scenery, are now putting their faith in the international community, in the hope they can head off further conflict.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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