With the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) using anti-ISIS offensives by the Peshmerga to gain territory, they’ve come to control considerable numbers of Arab towns and villages in Kirkuk and Nineveh Provinces. According to a new report by Human Rights Watch, this is fueling war crimes, with the Kurdish forces destroying Arab homes in at least 21 of those towns and villages.
The report cautions that there is a consistent pattern of “apparently unlawful demolitions,” and that in several cases Kurdish forces destroyed homes for no legitimate military purpose. The Peshmerga has claimed that the homes were booby trapped and it was a military necessity.
The HRW report, however, notes that the homes were destroyed in many cases long after fighting over the villages had ended, and that in some of the targeted areas the Arab homes were destroyed, but Kurdish-owned homes in the same area were spared.
Some of these areas, particularly in Kirkuk Province, are historically Kurdish lands that were “Arabized” by the Ba’athist government in an attempt to get loyal Sunni Arabs into oil rich lands instead of secessionist Kurds. There is concern that the KRG intends to ultimately carry out a similar purge to expel the Arabs and ensure a strong Kurdish majority in areas that might be involved in a future secessionist battle.