Iraqi Kurds ‘Banishing’ Sunni Arabs They Accuse of ISIS Ties

Locals Report Hundreds Expelled From Kurdish-Held Territory

In Syria, recent gains by the Kurdish YPG faction has sparked an exodus of Sunni Arab civilians from a number of cities, with many flocking abroad and claiming persecution. It appears this policy is starting to extend into Iraqi territory as well.

Locals from inside the territory of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have claimed hundreds of Sunni Arabs have been “banished” by Kurdish forces in recent days, driving them out of their homes and toward ISIS held territory amid allegations they are ISIS supporters.

This has become a growing problem as Kurdish Peshmerga forces have made territorial gains into Sunni Arab areas, and the KRG now encompasses more than a little territory which is not actually Kurdish. The locals fear these banishments are just the start of a wholesale purge to try to Kurdify the region.

Iraqi Kurds claim much territory which is now Sunni Arab, and which they were expelled from in favor of the Arabs during the Ba’athist government. Now, they seem keen to reverse those changes, using much the same violent tactics.

This is a two-fold problem for Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, however, as they are not only facing pressure from the Kurds, but from the mostly Arab Shi’ites as well. In both cases, the locals in central Iraq are losing territory to “occupying” powers, nominally a “liberation” from ISIS, and are finding that ISIS territory is increasingly the only place in Iraq they are welcome.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of