ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish warplanes have conducted airstrikes in the Yezidi (Ezidi)-populated city of Shingal in northern Iraq; sources told Kurdistan 24 on Wednesday.
According to the sources, there were some airstrikes to the west of Baraa village, located close to the border with Syria.
“The Free Yezidi Foundation is very worried that Turkey has started striking Sinjar. At this moment we hear that there have been more than five explosions from airstrikes in different areas of Sinjar,” Pari Ibrahim, Founder and Executive Director of the Free Yezidi Foundation, told Kurdistan 24.
She said one airstrike hit a convoy belonging to the Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) as well as some checkpoints.
“We are often asked when Ezidis will be ready to return to Shingal. Among so many concerns about reconstruction, demining IEDs, and basic needs like water, electricity, housing, and employment, the top concern is security. Today, a NATO member conducts airstrikes in Shingal targeting Ezidis,” Ibrahim added.
“The Free Yezidi Foundation calls upon the international coalition, Operation Inherent Resolve, to stop all aggressive airstrikes against Shingal immediately. The international coalition, as we understand, was put together to defeat [the Islamic State (IS)] and defend victimized communities. Shingal can never be the target of such attacks again,” she stated.
The attacks took place, while local officials remembered the day IS militants attacked the village of Kocho and massacred over 800 people in 2014.
“It is also worth noting that this outrageous action has been taken on Aug. 15, one of the dark days in our recent history, when IS conducted its genocidal cleansing of the village of Kocho,” she added.
“Many of the survivors are mourning today, and some are even in or near Kocho around mass graves to remember their loved ones.”
Naif Saido, a local official from Sinune, confirmed that the strikes took place in Shilo valley.
“I was not there, but [people in the area] say fighter jets in the Shilo valley hit YBS,” Saido told Kurdistan 24.
PKK-affiliated Firat News Agency also said Turkish jets bombed the Shilo valley and its surrounding areas. The bombardments have been ongoing from 5:00 p.m. local time until now.
Although there was no confirmation of casualties, ANF said the bombardment reportedly targeted a civilian car on the move, not a YBS convoy, resulting in injuries to civilians in the vehicle.
The incident occurs after a meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Tuesday where the two vowed to cooperate in the campaign against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who are present in Shingal.
It is unclear whether the two leaders discussed the airstrikes in the meeting.
In April 2017, Turkish airstrikes supposedly targeting the PKK-affiliated YBS killed five Peshmerga soldiers and wounded nine others, as well as causing extensive damage to the area, resulting in condemnation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
In March 2018, the PKK said it withdrew its forces from Shingal, handing over positions to the Iraqi army.
The PKK found a foothold there after coming down from its mountain bases on the Iraq-Iran border to back the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces and Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to open a safety corridor for the Ezidis.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany