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Yasilova incident: Wikis


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The Yasilova incident was a disputed[1] incident that took place in April 1991 between the British Royal Marines and Turkish Armed Forces at refugee camps for Kurds and Assyrians in Yasilova, a small town in Turkey located only 25 kilometers west of Iran.



In March 1991, with the end of hostilities between coalition forces lead primarily by the United States to rout the Iraqi military out of Kuwait, then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein sought to quash the rising Shiite and Kurdish insurgents who were rebelling against his regime. Saddam managed to put down the rebellions with little resistance but continued to persecute the Kurds in northern Iraq. Thousands of Kurdish civilians were displaced as coalition forces took part in an effort to provide humanitarian relief and where a large majority of them were placed in refugee camps in Turkey.

The incident

In the last week of April, an incident developed between British Royal Marines and Turkish military forces in Yasilova. The British Marines were tasked with distributing relief supplies to 3,000 Kurds and Assyrians in Yasilova under the Turkish military's auspices but found themselves in direct confrontation against the Turks themselves. Turkish soldiers, instead of cooperating with the British Marines in the relief distribution, had been stealing blankets, bed linen, flour and food, including sixty boxes of water, from the civilians to the point where the Marines were forced to intervene.[2] British forces requested to transport the civilians out of the country but the Turkish commander in the area refused to allow them to do so. The Marines were forced to pile the supplies back into helicopters to prevent further pillaging but also faced a possible firefight against the Turkish forces.

On April 29, a detachment of officials and CIA agents from the United States Embassy in Ankara arrived in Yasilova to help defuse the situation. They found that various diseases including cases of acute diarrhea and cholera had spread amongst the civilians in the camp and that the civilians were deprived of medical services by the Turkish military.[3] British journalist Robert Fisk, the only reporter present in Yasilova that day filed an article for the newspaper, The Independent, on April 30 from Diyarbakır documenting the confrontation between the Royal Marines and the Turkish soldiers' actions in the camp. The incident grew into a large scandal as Fisk was later detained by Turkish policemen in Diyarbakır, interrogated but later released and expelled from Turkey. Fisk speculated that charges were being prepared by the governor of Diyarbakır itself for defaming the Turkish military and later described the session as "pathetic and frightening."[4]


The European Commission and numerous journalists protested and demanded for an explanation from the Turkish government.[5] Turkey's foreign ministry and also the Army's Chief of Staff, General Dogran Gures denounced Fisk's article, with the latter claiming it was "planned, programmed propaganda."[6]


  1. ^ Robert Fisk is the only witness of the events as there is no official statement from the British or Turkish army stating the existence of such an event. The Turkish government rejected the claims.
  2. ^ Fisk, Robert. The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East. London: Alfred Knopf, 2005 p. 676 ISBN 1-4000-4151-1
  3. ^ Fisk. The Great War for Civilisation, p. 677
  4. ^ Fisk, Robert. Interrogation by Turks 'pathetic, frightening' The Toronto Star. May 5, 1991. Throughout his interrogation, he noted that the policemen held wooden cudgels and repeatedly stated that his report was false, "They desperately wanted it to be a lie, my report about the Turkish soldiers who looted food and bottles of water and blankets from the Kurdish refugees at Yasilova...[Superintendent of the police station Hassan] Luru wanted me to say that it had not happened, that I had defamed the Turkish army."
  5. ^ Fisk. The Great War for Civilisation, p. 680
  6. ^ Ibid


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