KIRKUK, Iraq (DJIN) - Iraq's government is cleansing the northern Iraqi province of Kirkuk of all but Arab residents, Damascus-based Iraqi, the Assyrian Democratic Movement and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said in a statement today. Kirkuk is an oil-rich province 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Baghdad, just outside the autonomous region of northern Iraq.
Emanuel Khoshaba, an official with the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa), said â€œ10 Assyrian families have been forced to move to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, since the beginning of the year.â€
Their deportation is the result of an Arabization campaign led by the ruling Iraqi Baath party, Khoshaba said. About 30,000 Assyrians were believed to have lived in Kirkuk before the 1991 Gulf war. Their numbers there today aren't known. According to reliable sources to Zinda Magazine many oil company workers in Kirkuk have been dismissed since the beginning of this year for adopting an Assyrian, Kurdish, or Turkoman name for their newly-born.