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We fled war to die in an earthquake, says Iraqi woman mourning family in Turkiye

February 8, 2023 at 4:06 pm

Volunteers organise packages to be sent for the victims of the devastating earthquakes in Turkiye in Erbil, Iraq on February 07, 2023 [Ahsan Mohammed Ahmed Ahmed/Anadolu Agency]

Six years ago, Rehab Talal and her family fled the Daesh-held city of Mosul in northern Iraq seeking shelter in Turkiye, but seven members of her family died, including a week-old baby when her parents’ house collapsed in the earthquake.

When Talal learned that the earthquake had struck the region where her parents and other family members lived, in the south-eastern Adiyaman province, she rushed there, only to find a scene of devastation, Reuters reports.

“I couldn’t find the building, the entire area was flattened,” Talal, who lives in another Turkish province, said over the phone.

The combined death toll across Turkiye and neighbouring Syria from Monday’s tremor climbed above 11,000 on Wednesday.

Talal said seven of her 13-member family had died. The bodies of her father, two brothers and four nieces and nephews remained on the ground in front of the collapsed building.

READ: Palestinian refugees killed in Turkiye earthquake

“The corpses have swollen; it’s the third day, the bodies are on the street, no one has removed them,” she said. “If they don’t bury them here, we want to take them to Iraq.”

Thousands of refugees from Iraq fled into Turkiye during the US-backed operation to drive out Daesh in 2016.

Daesh’s brutal rule, which emerged in Iraq and Syria in 2014, during which it killed thousands of people in the name of its narrow interpretation of Islam, came to an end in Mosul when Iraqi and international forces defeated the group in 2017.

“We left Iraq because we were looking for peace and safety; my sister and husband were killed. We faced a disaster there, to face another one here … we fled wars to die in an earthquake,” Talal said.