Iraqi families torn apart by holiday resort attack say ‘they can no longer live'

Families of nine victims including a child call on authorities to bring the killers to justice

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Families of Iraqi victims of an attack on a tourist resort in the northern district of Zakho are demanding that their killers are brought to justice.

Nine people were killed, including a child, and 31 others were injured when the rockets hit the resort on July 20.

Baghdad has blamed Ankara for the attack, as Turkey has launched incursions against the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, inside Iraqi territory since the 1980s.

Turkey has denied it was behind the attack and instead accused the PKK.

The National spoke to two families who lost two members, one an 11-month-old baby and the other a 24-year-old woman.

Some of the victims were from the city of Hilla, located in central Babylon province.

Durgham lost his first and only baby daughter, Zahraa.

“You can see me alive, but I am like a dead body,” he told The National.

“My daughter was less than a year old, the family and I were waiting and preparing for her birthday party, so, what kind of life would we live after this big loss?” he asked.

“I cannot forget her image, her voice while playing at home, or even the last phone call with her when she can only say: ‘Baba’”, he said.

“I had not seen my daughter since she went with my family to Kurdistan, she was killed with the same clothes she wore at home”.

Zahraa minutes before the attack on the resort. Photo provided by her father, Durgham.

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council is set to hold an emergency session to discuss the attack, according to Iraq's foreign ministry.

The family of Saja Mohammed, a 24-year-old woman killed in the attack, blame the tourism company for her death as they were assured the resort was safe to visit.

“The guide knew there was an attack in same resort two days before the incident happened but he insisted to bring us to the location,” Saja's mother, a 57-year-old homemaker who survived the attack, said.

“The guides had warnings of not going there to avoid being a target,” she said.

Saja, hours before the attack. Photo: her family.

Saja's mother told The National that minutes after her family arrived five rockets hit the resort, and people were running with bloodstained clothes, others were killed and some drowned in the lake.

“We went six but came back home only four. They went alive but return in coffins,” she said.

Lots of people drowned in the nearby lake and are undocumented victims, said the mother.

“The numbers that were announced are inaccurate as the government is trying to minimise the disaster,” she claimed.

“If we have a really good government that takes care of its citizens, Turkey will never think to target Iraq’s soil, but all the politicians care for their own favour and ordinary Iraqis can go to hell,” she said.

Saja was unmarried and is now not able to finish her education. Her mother said she had a kind heart and everyone loved her.

“Saja loved to travel a lot with her family. She was very social and beautiful,” her mother said tearfully.

Saja’s mother and Zahraa’s father said they are not asking the government for compensation, only to bring those who were behind the attack to justice.

“Can money bring back my daughter or granddaughter to me? Of course not”, Saja’s mother said.

The coffins of Zahraa and Saja were draped in Iraqi flags and festooned with flowers, while hundreds of mourners took to streets of Hilla, where they born and raised.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi declared a state of mourning in the country following the attack.

Updated: July 25, 2022, 5:33 PM
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