Kurdish civilian and solider alike leave Kirkuk

(TFC) – It is being widely reported up to 95% of Kurds left Kirkuk prior to the Iraqi army’s entrance. TFC’s sources place the number closer to 70%. This places around 70,000 Kurds in the category of “displaced persons”. Or, does it?

Historically, the Kurds have excelled at unconventional warfare. From the Kurdish position, taking on regional powers in open conflict using static lines is suicide. They’re correct in this belief. The mass movement suggests a strategy of drawing the Iraqis and the Iranian-backed militias accompanying them deeper into Kurdistan and stretching their resources.

It is widely known by all forces opposing the Kurds how well they establish stay-behind networks and strike from deep within to demoralize and degrade their enemy’s fighting capabilities. All signs point to this being an adopted strategy, at least in the border areas. Many of the empty homes in Kirkuk likely belong to Kurds who left their homes to melt away into the countryside and who will reappear later to strike at Iraqi forces.

Hanna Noori captured the exodus live.

Some civilians may have left fearing persecution for participating in the vote on Kurdish independence. A vote, incidentally, demonstrating that more than 90% of the population supports Kurdish independence. Their fears were well-founded, The Fifth Column has confirmed reports of beheadings of Kurdish prisoners at the hands of Hashd al-Shaabi militia.

As Iraqi forces move north, more war crimes should be expected. The Islamic State has also reappeared in the area, knowing the Iraqi forces are incapable of combatting them.

Image Source: Kurdishstruggle, Flickr, Creative Commons
Kurdish YPG Fighter