Anger grows over Turkey’s de facto occupation of Iraqi Kurdistan, Voice of America reveals the scale of the military operation occurring despite protests.

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Turkey’s de facto occupation of large swathes of Iraqi Kurdistan has been exposed in reporting by Voice of America (VoA), as a campaign against the occupation and protests from political parties gets underway. However, the region’s dominant Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has failed to take a position against the instillation of Turkish military checkpoints in the region, prompting widespread condemnation.

Only VoA, a US government-funded outlet, has been able to gain access to the rural regions affected by the de facto Turkish occupation. Nizar Mihemed, a local village head, lamented the impact on local agriculture, telling VoA: “There is a lot of pressure … you can’t even go into your own fields.”

His concerns were reflected by local Faqiq Niheli, who added: “Turkey’s attacks have increased a lot lately in intensity and violence. In fact, people have suffered more, since it is summer, and the fires also have an effect. The bombing causes fires to spread.”

In his report, VoA’s Kawa Omer noted that the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) had only been able to gain access to these regions with the support and complicity of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which governs the region. This situation has prompted opposition and protests from a number of parties in the region.

The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), an umbrella group linking Kurdish organisations in all four parts of Kurdistan and the diaspora, has reported an increase in the movement of trucks and armoured vehicles through nearby regions, as well as troop movements through villages in Duhok.

“These Turkish attacks will certainly lead to a long-term war with regional and global consequences. Although it is under the joint responsibility of Iraq and Southern Kurdistan [the KRI], the Turkish occupation has been facilitated with the knowledge and consent of the ruling KDP and the government in Baghdad,” the KNK said.

Also in response to Turkey’s extensive efforts to occupy Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Society Freedom Movement (Tevgera Azadi) issued a statement directed at political groups in the region, calling for vigilance and resistance against the Turkish aggression. The statement likewise emphasised the need for the Kurdish and Iraqi people to stand united against the Turkish invasion.

Notably, the KDP’s regional rivals in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led their parliamentary bloc in opposing the operation. ““We, as the PUK faction in the Iraqi parliament, express our deep concern and condemn these violations of the KRI and Iraqi sovereignty, because it puts the security of the country and the safety of citizens at risk. It is also a violation of international law,” they said in a statement criticising both the central federal Baghdad government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which is dominated by the KDP.

Opposition to the Turkish occupation has not been limited to political factions. Well-known journalists and activists in the local region have also joined a hashtag campaign, under the title “Turkey is occupying Duhok”, lending their support to a growing wave of criticism.

The protest and opposition comes as local sources report that, in addition to deploying hundreds of tanks and armoured vehicles around the Metina (Metîna) area of the Duhok governorate, a high-ranking Turkish delegation is likely to visit Baghdad. In the past 10 days, Turkey has deployed 300 tanks and armoured vehicles to Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkish forces have established checkpoints, collected residents’ ID documents and forcibly evacuated several border villages. The military presence has raised concerns over further displacement and the sovereignty of the region.