ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The various unofficial militia forces in the disputed town of Sinjar (Shingal) are causing security concerns and preventing displaced Yezidis (Ezidi) from returning to their homes, local officials said on Tuesday.
Mahma Khalil, the mayor of Shingal, said several militia factions in the town operate under no legal authority, which has created an unstable security crisis for civilians.
“We are asking for a unified and officially recognized security force under the rule of law to protect the town,” Khalil told Kurdistan 24.
“There are armed groups in the area who do not belong to the Iraqi security forces,” and act “with no regards for the Iraqi law or government authority,” the mayor stated, adding the local authorities have called on the Iraqi government “for a solution.”
The so-called Islamic State’s emergence and its violent assault on Shingal in 2014 led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Ezidis. Most of them fled to the Kurdistan Region, while others resettled in neighboring countries in the region or Western states. Others were not as lucky and remained stranded in the war zone.
Kurdish and Ezidi Peshmerga forces, with the support of the US-led coalition, liberated Shingal from the Islamic State in November 2015. However, the town remains virtually vacant with little to no basic services available.
Shingal, an area disputed between Erbil and Baghdad, is currently under the control of Iraqi forces and Shia-dominated militias. These forces, plus a limited number of Peshmerga and other Kurdish fighters, are present in Shingal and its outskirts with reports of tensions between them over who will control the strategic town that lies near the Syrian border.
Wais Nayef Badal, head of the Shingal sub-district council, said Baghdad should do more to improve the security situation in the region.
“The central government [in Baghdad] is responsible for the security of the country,” he told Kurdistan 24. “We are asking the government for a long-term solution to this problem.”
Although Shingal was fully liberated from the Islamic State by late 2017, hundreds of thousands of Ezidis remain displaced in the Kurdistan Region due to insecurity and a lack of basic services in their largely-destroyed hometown.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Chakdar Jamal)