When she heard an airstrike from her home in the town of Sheladize, Nesrat Khaja ran out looking for her son, who had left that morning to fetch wood from the mountains and hadn’t returned.
The 24-year-old Azad Mahdi was among four locals killed by a Turkish airstrike on Friday, according to local news reports.
Mahdi’s father, a local Peshmerga force, feels helpless as he receives guests during the customary mourning reception.
He says that the ongoing conflict turned their city into a prison, as locals are at risk as soon as they venture out into the mountains surrounding the town.
The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984. Turkey regularly attacks PKK militants, both in its mainly Kurdish southeast and in northern Iraq, where the group is based.
The town of Sheladize, in the north of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, is about half an hour drive away from the Turkish border and home to a Turkish military base
On Monday, Sheladize residents staged a demonstration, protesting against the unstable security situation.
According to local journalist Paibar Artisi, 52 Sheladize residents have been killed during Turkish military operations targeting PKK elements since 1991, adding that the conflict hampers local economic development.
On Friday, the Kurdistan Regional Government issued a statement condemning the events resulting in the death of citizens, asking Turkey to respect Iraqi territorial sovereignty and the PKK to evacuate the areas in question.