KIRKUK, Iraq -- Peshmerga forces have ransacked and destroyed the homes of Sunni Arab villagers near the city of Kirkuk and blamed the damage on recent clashes with the Daesh terrorist group, local residents say.
"Nearly 10 of our villages were destroyed by the Peshmerga and rendered unliveable -- a situation the Peshmerga blame on recent fighting with Daesh," Khalaf Muzhir, a resident of the village of Kushkaya, told Anadolu Agency.
According to Muzhir, the villages of Kushkaya, Kutan, Harabarud, Ismail Awa, Sihara, Kuwaza, Nasir, Albubadir and Maisaloun are among those that have sustained the most damage.
Kutan resident Fattouma Ayham said she and her family fled to Kirkuk one year ago.
"One year ago, Peshmerga forces terrorized us from our villages and have not allowed us to return," Ayham said.
"All the village's infrastructure has been destroyed; there is no water or electricity," she added.
Fahmi Saadawi, another Kutan resident, urged the Iraqi government to help displaced villagers return to their homes.
"We are tired of being refugees," Saadawi said. "Now that Iraq's central government has taken control of the territory, there is no reason for us not to go back to our villages."
After the army cut and ran before Daesh's 2014 onslaught in northern and western Iraq, Peshmerga forces seized several parts of the country located outside the borders of the Kurdish region, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.