ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An Iraqi military official on Sunday confirmed Iraqi forces, supported by US advisers, have deployed to the northern border areas ahead of potential retaliatory attacks by the Islamic State (IS) in next door Syria but denied the establishment of a US military base on Mount Sinjar (Shingal).
The Commander of the Nineveh Operations, Maj. Gen. Najem al-Jabouri, refuted reports of a US base being set up on Mount Shingal, stating the information originated from unreliable sources.
“US advisers are in Mosul, Qayyarah, and other parts of the Nineveh Province. They have told us that we should take precautionary measures at the border,” al-Jabouri told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.
He mentioned that Iraqi forces, alongside US military advisers, mobilized to the Shingal area to defend the border from IS militants who may be attempting to cross from Syria into Iraq.
“The involvement of the US military in supporting Iraqi forces in securing the border does not go beyond its scope, which is to provide military advice.”
Shingal is one of the more strategic cities in Iraq, located near the border with Syria and 125 km west of Mosul.
On Friday, Shingal’s Deputy Mayor, Jalal Khalo, told Kurdistan 24 that some 15 US army vehicles arrived at the top of Mount Shingal, a move he suggested signaled the intention to establish a military base.
Shingal Mayor Mahma Khalil on Saturday told Kurdistan 24 that the presence of US troops on Mount Shingal “brings hope for stability” to the thousands of displaced members of the Kurdish Ezidi religious minority, which have yet to be allowed to return home.
Instability in Shingal has been one of the most significant concerns for hundreds of thousands of Ezidis who have been displaced to the Kurdistan Region since mid-2014, following the rise of IS, Khalil claimed.
The fight against IS destroyed up to 85 percent of Shingal. Political and military uncertainty and the lack of adequate infrastructure and public services have caused the town to remain, as it has been described, a ghost town.
Editing by Nadia Riva