Iraqi Shiites say driven from homes in Sunni area

The Associated Press reports: The insurgents came at midday, walking across a canal, advancing under cover of mortar fire toward the cluster of three Iraqi villages.

Within eight hours, Shiite residents who fled said the Sunni insurgents had expelled thousands of them from the majority-Sunni province, helped by local Sunnis in neighboring villages.

“You cannot imagine what happened, only if you saw it could you believe it,” said Hassan Ali, a 52-year-old farmer siting in the al-Zahra Shiite mosque, used to distribute aid in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, where the displaced had fled, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) away.

“They hit us with mortars and mortars, and the families fled, and they kept hitting us. It was completely sectarian. The Shiites, out,” he said.

The attacks took place on June 16 in the neighboring villages of Chardaghli, Brawchi and Karanaz, as well as a fourth village, Beshir, some 30 miles (50 kilometers) to the north, said the displaced residents. All places were home to Shiite Turkmen, an ethnically distinct minority who speak their own language and are scattered through Iraq.

Over a dozen displaced residents in Kirkuk and the nearby Shiite Turkmen town of Taza Khormato gave The Associated Press near identical accounts of the expulsions. It was not possible, however, to independently confirm the incidents because Sunni insurgents now control of the villages. [Continue reading…]

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