Fleeing Tuz Khormato Residents put Strain on Kirkuk

By Adam Lucente for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Fleeing Tuz Khormato residents add more strain on Iraq's Kirkuk

Farman Mohammad Rashid is from Kirkuk, and like others from the city he has family in Tuz Khormato. “I have two aunties there,” he told Al-Monitor. He kept in touch with them throughout the violent clashes in the city last week. “They say it’s OK for an hour and then they hear bombs again.”

The fighting that broke out April 24 between the Popular Mobilization Units and the peshmerga in Tuz Khormato prompted an unknown number of families to flee the city for the relatively safer Kirkuk and surrounding areas. Although a cease-fire is currently in place, many past such agreements have been violated.

Due to the on-and-off fighting beginning in November 2015, some Tuz Khormato residents who fled now say they are never returning, straining Kirkuk, which already hosts over 400,000 internally displaced persons. And with supporters of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) supporting the peshmerga and local Turkmen showing more sympathy for the Popular Mobilization Units, the situation may remain tense for some time.

Several Tuz Khormato residents left during the week of April 25, but many others had already fled during similar clashes in November of last year. “I don’t think it will be finished soon,” said Saman Khurshid, a KDP official who lived in the city until November 2015. “There are Shiite militia snipers everywhere. If the militias see Kurds, they shoot,” he told Al-Monitor.

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