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Tensions on Iraq-Turkey border send residents packing

August 28th, 2007

SHARANSH, Iraq (AFP) - A Christian Iraqi, 43-year-old Emmanuel was born and raised in Baghdad where he lived and managed a liquor store that has been in the family for decades, until he received death threats from Islamist insurgents.

zakhoAlong with his wife, the father-of-two left the violent southern Baghdad neighbourhood of Dora for Sharansh, a Christian village nestled in the mountains of Iraq’s relatively tranquil autonomous Kurdish region.

“Who would have imagined that after having left Baghdad — its car bombs and the violence tearing it apart — I would have to search once again for a new safe haven,” said Emmanuel, who declined to give his full name.

“Even this beautiful village is no longer safe,” he said, as he gazed over the mountains towering over Sharansh, its orange groves, walnut trees and water springs, 500 kilometers (310 miles) away from the madness of Baghdad.

In recent weeks, dozens of Christian families like Emmanuel’s that fled Baghdad and other embattled Iraqi cities for towns in Kurdistan, have taken to the road again to escape Turkish threats to hunt down Kurdish rebels.

In June, Iraq complained Turkey had bombarded targets in its northern Kurdish region, which has for decades been a safe haven for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which fights for the independence of Turkey’s Kurds.

The foreign ministry charged at the time that Turkish shelling targeted villages in Dohuk province, near Sharansh.

“Several shells crashed in the vicinity of Sharansh. The situation is tense,” said Emmanuel.

“The Turkish army has massed troops on the borders. People are afraid and I don’t want to wake up one morning and find Turkish soldiers all around us. So I will leave.”

Turkey says the PKK, considered a terrorist group by Ankara, Washington and much of the international community, enjoys free movement in northern Iraq, where it obtains weapons and explosives.

Ankara has accused the forces of Massud Barzani, who heads the autonomous Kurdish administration, of providing the PKK with weapons, and has threatened a a cross-border operation to strike at PKK bases in the region.

But earlier this month the prime ministers of Turkey and Iraq signed a cooperation document to end the safe haven the PKK rebels enjoy in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The agreement came amid warnings from Washington that a Turkish incursion in northern Iraq would destabilise a relatively peaceful region of that already troubled country.

“We said that we will cooperate against terrorist organisations, notably the PKK,” Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki said at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

But observers in Ankara cast doubt over the embattled Maliki’s capacity to persuade the Iraqi Kurds to act against the PKK, whose campaign since 1984 for self-rule in southeast Turkey has resulted in more than 37,000 deaths.

The Turkish army says that between 2,800 and 3,100 PKK rebels are based in northern Iraq.

Turkey also suspects Iraqi Kurds of harbouring designs to break away from Baghdad and set up their independent state which, it fears, would embolden the PKK.

Emmanuel’s concerns are also shared by Iraqi Kurds across the region who used to spend weekends and summer holidays in Sharansh to escape the heat and bustle of cities in the area.

“Last month I came with my family to Sharansh on vacation but one day we heard the noise of exploding shells, so we decided to return home to Zakho,” said Hajji Hassan, referring to the largest city in Dohuk province.

“We used to come to Sharansh on the weekends and for summer holidays to escape the noise and the heat of the city. Now we are afraid,” he said.

Iraqi Kurdish lawmaker Mahmud Othman insisted that tensions facing the region must be resolved through “peaceful dialogue not by force.”

Turkey, he said, “must acknowledge that Kurds have rights, and open a dialogue with the PKK to put an end to a conflict that has lasted for decades.”

Othman also criticised the agreement signed on August 7 between the Turkish and Iraqi prime ministers, branding it “a huge mistake that should have not happened.”









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Tabokh = August

Tensions on Iraq-Turkey border send residents packing
August 29, 07

Iraq's Endangered Minorities August 27, 07

Mosul Christians in dire danger August 27, 07

U.S. Troops Must Not Withdraw, Say Iraqis August 26, 07

Just the Facts, in Words and Pictures August 24, 07

Kurdistan's Twin Towers: The Massacre of the Yazidi August 24, 07

UAT Instructor Creates Cuneiform and Hieroglyphic Translator August 24, 07

The Tale of Gilgamesh at The Ashby Stage August 24, 07

Iran: It Can Be Tough to Say Goodbye August 23, 07

Threats to Iraq’s Communities of Antiquity August 22, 07

The Plight of the Cristians in the Middle East August 21, 07

Crushing Iraq's human mosaic August 21, 07

Iraq's minorities face a rising threat August 20, 07

The situation in my country is tragic,” the man continued.
August 18, 07

Kirkuk poll seen unlikely on time August 18, 07

Wanton killing in Nineveh plains August 18, 07

Iraqi boy brought here for lifesaving surgery August 17, 07

Turkey's Dam will destroy Hasankeyf's unique heritage
August 16, 07

Video of beheading used to threaten Christians August 16, 07

Four suicide bombings kill 175 in Iraq August 14, 07

Controversy over a Mardin Assyrian monastery August 11, 07

Kurds Arrest Iraqis for Raising Iraqi Flag August 11, 07

Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis betrays his Anti
Assyrian Bias
August 10, 07

Jordan to Let 50,000 Iraqi Children Into Its Schools August 10, 07

Iraqi Kurdistan Faces Trouble on Two Fronts August 10, 07

Prayers for the suffering Assyrians in Iraq August 10, 07

NEWS ALERT: Withdrawal US Troops Could Lead To
"Extermination Iraqi Christians", Group Warns
August 9, 07

Gunmen in total control of major Baghdad district August 9, 07

Mosul Christian Community Dwindles August 7, 07

IRAQ Mosul, "focal point" of Wahabi extremism in Iraq August 5, 07

Solidarity, Commitment by the Austrian Ruling Party for
Recognition of the Assyrian Genocide
August 5, 07

Helping Iraqi refugees should be part and parcel | of fighting
August 3, 07

A deadly day in Baghdad August 3, 07

EWTN - Special television program on Christian of Iraq
August 3, 07

Iraqi Christians flee ancient roots for uncertain future in Beirut suburbs August 2, 07

Report on the International Association of Genocide Scholars Conference August 2, 07

Assyrian wins Sweden journalist award two years in a row August 1, 07

An Eastern Christian in the Capital of the Islamic Revolution
August 1, 07

Tamuz = July

Iraq’s Christian Exodus July 30, 07

Iraq vs Bulgarian nurses, the international community’s double standards July 30, 07

U.S. commission hears testimony on Christians in Iraq July 30, 07

"Iraq's Christian community fights for survival" July 29, 07

Christian Persecution in Iraq Getting Worse July 28, 07

Sudden Withdrawal from Iraq will be Catastrophic for all Concerned July 28, 07

Ashur T.V. 3-hour program this Saturday, July 28, 2007 July 26, 07

Iraq Church Head: Christian Plight Worse Than Reported July 26, 07

New Schism within Christianity caused by the Vatican July 26, 07


Iraqi Christians living through brunt of war’s wrath July 23, 07

The Death of Iraq's Christians July 23, 07

Vilification of the Assyrians by the Naked Archeologist July 21, 07

Demonstrations in Los Angeles July 21, 07

In refuge in US, Iraq museum chief dreams of peace July 20, 07

Kurdish Soldiers Kill Assyrian Boy in Drive-by Shooting July 20, 07

Ashur T.V. Program July 21 July 20, 07

The Destruction of Iraq's Christians July 20, 07

Detroit's Mayor: No to Iraqi Refugees July 19, 07

US Commission Hearing on Threats to Iraq's Minorities July 19, 07

Swedish Report Reveals Kurdish Campaign Against Assyrian Women
July 18, 0

Kurdish Bribe as a Mean of Ethnic Cleansing July 18, 07

Christians Feeling Brunt Of Wrath in Iraq July 17, 07

Australian Contractors Killed As Assyrian Christians Face Daily Persecution in Iraq July 17, 07

Welcome to Mosul -- on Stockholm July 16, 07

Christian Assyrians head north to live uneasily among another minority. July 16, 07

Australian Conference Calls for Protection for Iraq's Assyrians
July 15, 07

Last Rites in the Holy Land? July 15, 07

Christians face uncertain future in anarchic Iraq July 11, 07

Rally to Save Mideast Christians Draws Support from Vatican, Holocaust Survivor, Politicians July 06, 07

Exodus of Christians Hits Another Baghdad District July 06, 07

Lettr to President Bush by 73 Members of Congress July 06, 07

Iraq's Christians Cry: "Please Don't Leave Us" July 06, 07

Four Christians abducted while fleeing Baghdad July 05, 07

Rights group: Kurds torture detainees July 05, 07

Islamic Group in Mosul Demands Christians to Leave the City
July 05, 07

Iraqis fleeing the violence, seeking safety beyond Iraq's borders
July 04, 07

Assyrians Thrown to the Lions July 02, 07

Video of ABC Report about Iraqi Assyrians
July 02, 07

Video of Chaldean Assyrian Rally in San Diego in behalf of Christians of Iraq July 01, 07

Khzeerun = June

Christians Assyrians head north to live uneasily among another minority. July 16, 07

Ashur T.V. Saturday June 30, 07 June 29, 07

Danish Scholar Needs Better Scholarship June 29, 07

Turkish shelling spreads fear in Assyrian border villages
June 29, 07

Stop the Genocide against Iraqi Christians June 28, 07

Two more Christians killed in an attack in Mosul June 28, 07

US House Approves $10M for the Nineveh Plains in Iraq
June 25, 07

Iraqi church leaders: Iraqi gov’t failing nation’s Christians
June 25, 07

Survival of the Assyrian community in Basra June 23, 07

Cardinal Kasper On the Church of the East June 23, 07

Young Christian driver abducted on the road to Mosul
June 23, 07

Rather survive in a ghetto than be slaughtered in the streets of Baghdad June 21, 07

Pope Tells Assyrian Patriarch Christians in Iraq Must Work Together June 21, 07

Catholic Relief Services Assists Iraqi Refugees In Syria, Lebanon
June 20, 07

8 Christian students and teachers are kidnapped in the Nineveh Plain June 20, 07

Iraqi refugees in Syria face poverty trap June 20, 07

The newest kurdish fibs,fairy tales and lies June 19, 07

Demonstration in Sweden in behalf Assyrians of Iraq June 18, 07

Chaldean Priest Abducted in Baghdad is Free and in Good Health
June 17, 07

AUA and AANF of Australia lobby in behalf of Iraq's Assyrians
June 17, 07

U.S.: 60 pct of Baghdad not controlled June 16, 07

Iraqi Christians’ most urgent needs according to a Chaldean priest June 16, 07

Welcome to New Assyria, Sweden June 16, 07

More than a thousand Christian families forced to flee home
June15, 07

Imploring the EU Parliament discuss the Ethnic Cleansing of the Assyrians in Iraq June15, 07

Who will protect us? June14, 07

US Congress Takes a Step to Help Iraq's Persecuted Religious Minorities June13, 07

Far From War, a Town With a Well-Used Welcome Mat June13, 07

Congresswoman Eshoo Urges Bush, Congressional Members to Protect Iraq's Christian Population June12, 07

U.S. House Subcommittee on State Approves $10 Million for Religious Minorities in the Nineveh Plains of Iraq June12, 07

Report Outlines Ethnic Cleansing Campaign Against Iraq's Assyrians June12, 07

U.S. Worth an Arduous Journey for Iraqi Assyrian Family
June11, 07

Killers of Fr. Ragheed and the three deacons wanted their conversion to Islam June10, 07

They slaughter us because we are not muslims June10, 07

German Society for Threatened People Intensifies
Human Rights Campaign for ChaldoAssyrians
June 9, 07

Update of the Ashur TV program June 8, 07

Iraq War Hurting Local Assyrians June 8, 07

UN Refugee Agency Spotlights Plight of Iraqi Christian Couple
June 8, 07

A Safe Haven for Iraq's Christians Would Not Be an 'Assyrian Ghetto' June 7, 07

Hundreds Attend Funeral of Slain Assyrian Priest in North Iraq
June 4, 07

600 Assyrian families have fled their homes in Dora Iraq June 4, 07

The Chaldean Church mourns Fr. Ragheed Ganni and his martyrs
June 4, 07

Chaldean Priest and three Deacons Murdered in Mosul June 4, 07

Terrorists sack and occupy a Christian convent in Baghdad June 2, 07

Call the White House June 2, 07

A Message of Solidarity from Rosie Malek-Yonan June 2, 07

Christian Minorities in the Islamic Middle East: Rosie Malek-Yonan on the Assyrians June 1, 07

Plight of the Assyrians a UNA Report
June 1, 07


April - May 07

February - March 07

December 06 - January 07

October, November 06

August, September 06

June, July 06
March April May 06
February 06
December05 Januray 06