ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An Ezidi official said on Saturday that the presence of US troops on Mount Sinjar (Shingal) "brings hope of stability" to the thousands of displaced members of the religious minority that will allow them to return to their homes and also prevent the area from becoming "an Iranian corridor to Syria."
About 15 US military vehicles arrived on Friday at the top of Mount Shingal with the apparent intention of establishing a military base.
“It is not the first time that the US forces were deployed to the area of Shingal. They were there from 2003 until 2010,” Shingal Mayor Mahma Khalil, told Kurdistan 24 from Duhok.
Instability in Shingal has been one of the biggest concerns to hundreds of thousands of Ezidis, who have been displaced to the Kurdistan Region since the mid-2014 following the rise of the Islamic State (IS), according to Khalil.
Shingal is one of the more strategic cities in Iraq, located near the border of Syria and 125 km west of Mosul.
“There is much Da’esh activity on the border. It is the responsibility of the Iraqi federal government to protect the border and bring stability to the region since their forces are in control of the area,” he said, using the Arabic pejorative for IS. He added that the US troop deployment is being done with the knowledge of, and in coordination with, the Iraqi government.
Khalil also mentioned that their presence in Shingal is meant to prevent IS fighters from crossing the border between Iraq and Syria, and also to “prevent Hashd al-Shaabi militias from controlling the mountain or blocking the area so it becomes an Iranian corridor to Syria, which could eventually lead to a regional war.”
The fight against IS destroyed up to 85 percent of Shingal. Instability and insufficient infrastructure and public services have caused the town to remain, as it has been described, a ghost town.
Khalil hoped that the stability in Shingal would later allow Kurdish Peshmerga forces to return to the area and from a joint administration of the region with Iraqi forces, since it is one of the territories disputed by the federal government and the Kurdistan Region.
Editing by John J. Catherine