Located near homes

Sulaymaniyah teams work to clear dangerous minefield

SULAYMANIYAH – Mine clearance teams are working to clear a minefield near homes in the village of Zirgwez, part of Sulaymaniyah’s Arbat sub-district. The minefield, planted during the former Baath regime to protect military bases, has so far revealed 66 “anti-personnel VS” mines.

“We suspect there may also be Valmara mines, which are more dangerous,” said Mohsen Abdulkarim, Director General of Mines in Sulaymaniyah. He described the site as “the most challenging field in the Kurdistan Region.”

The mines are located close to village houses, with water pipes running through the field and many mines buried under fences and barbed wire, complicating the clearance process. Zirgwez village, located south of Sulaymaniyah, is home to approximately 500 families.

Mine teams are meticulously cutting through barbed wire and clearing the area line by line, initially establishing a safety zone due to the difficult terrain. “This is the first time we have seen mines both on the surface and buried deep under barbed wires, making clearance work particularly challenging,” Abdulkarim said.

Before 1980, the Baath regime constructed over three military units in the area, planting anti-personnel mines around them for protection. While the exact number of mines is unknown, the Sulaymaniyah mine teams have neutralized many, ensuring the safety of the personnel involved.

Official statistics indicate 183 square kilometers of land across Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, Duhok, Halabja, and Garmiyan are contaminated with mines, with an additional 72 square kilometers identified as dangerous areas. The most affected districts are Sharbazher (37 sq. km), Penjwen (26 sq. km), Soran (22 sq. km), Choman (21 sq. km), and Halabja (12 sq. km).

In 2023, the Kurdistan Region’s Mine Action Agency successfully cleared 33 minefields and 11 other areas contaminated with explosives, totaling nearly three square kilometers of land. However, 23 individuals were victims of mine and explosives-related accidents in 2023, resulting in 10 fatalities and 13 injuries. Several casualties were due to non-compliance with posted warnings of mines in the area, according to officials.

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Minefield cleared of explosives in Garmiyan village

Minefield cleared of explosives in Garmiyan village

Decades after war, landmines still haunt the Kurdistan Region's mountain villages

Decades after war, landmines still haunt the Kurdistan Region's mountain villages