2015 conflict and rebuilding of the district
In 2015, militants linked to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) entered Sur district, erected barricades and dug ditches in the streets. The local authority banned public gatherings and imposed a curfew, and the Turkish Army deployed about 200 troops of the Special Forces Command to conduct house-to-house searches. The conflict resulted in most residents abandoning their homes. Abandoned houses in various neighborhoods of Sur district were occupied by militants, and clashes between the PKK and Turkish Army and Special Forces continued until early 2016.
Amnesty International has estimated that 300,000 people were displaced by the conflict, and branded the government’s response ‘collective punishment’. International Crisis Group has estimated that around 1,700 people have been killed in the resulting conflict and estimates the number of displaced people at 350,000. Human Rights Watch criticized the Turkish government for ‘blocking access for independent investigations into alleged mass abuses against civilians across southeast Turkey’.
Many houses were destroyed and registered historic buildings were seriously damaged. In March 2016, the government launched a project for the restoration of all the damaged historic structures and the rebuilding of destroyed houses in accordance of their original style. However, the project was criticized by the Turkish Union of Architects and Engineers Chambers, who claimed that the project would take “a defense-centered approach”, which would require the destruction of some historic structures.
The Syrian rebel fighter shouted “kill the pigs, kill the infidels,” as he went door-to-door searching for the homes of Kurds who had fled the newly captured town of Ras al-Ayn. The man wearing camouflage and khaki spray-painted