AIN ISSA, Syria (Kurdistan 24) – Dozens of Iraqi refugees who arrived in Syria’s Kurdish-held areas (Rojava) last week on Friday said they fled because of the destruction brought by Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia militias.
The refugees turned to Syria’s northern areas, which are under the control of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the leading Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
Saif Jasim Mohammad, a Sunni Iraqi refugee from Anbar province, told Kurdistan 24 he fled Iraq with his family because of the Hashd al-Shaabi's, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), injustice and tyranny.
“Hashd al-Shaabi militias kill the Sunni people on the one hand, and Daesh is killing people on the other hand,” he said, using the pejorative Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (IS).
“We fled with our families to save them from rape and to save ourselves from being beheaded,” he added.
Mohammad further added that Hashd al-Shaabi committed crimes against the civilians by the Iranian proxy militia.
“The Hashd al-Shaabi confiscated my house, my car, and my money,” he said.
Refugees said they would not return home as long as their homes were under the control of Hashd al-Shaabi.
Nazmi, another Iraqi refugee from Anbar province, said as Hashd al-Shaabi militias are killing Sunnis, returning to Iraq isn't a possibility.
“We fled not only Daesh crimes but also Hashd al-Shaabi who bombarded our homes,” he said.
“Hashd treats us as Daesh did. They consider us the same as Daesh,” he further added.
Since the beginning of the war against the jihadist group a few years ago, thousands of civilians from Sunni areas like Mosul, Salahuddin, and Anbar, fled to Kurdish provinces in Iraq and Syria.
There are two camps in Rojava established for Iraqi refugees, one is in the village of Mabrouka (40 kilometers or 25 miles west of Sari Kani town in Hasaka province), and the other is Al-Hawl camp in the southern countryside of Hasakah.
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Redwan Bezar)
Editing by Nadia Riva