Turkish airstrike kills Yezidi militiamen in Iraq’s disputed Sinjar
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Turkish airstrike on Wednesday killed at least five fighters in the Yezidi Protection Units (YBS) militia group, including its commander known as Sardasht Shingali, security sources said.
The incident took place close to the Syrian-Iraqi border in Sinune subdistrict that is located in Nineveh province’s Sinjar (Shingal) district, territory disputed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal Iraqi government. The raid struck a YBS base in the town of Dugure, located about 20 kilometers north of the city of Shingal.
The YBS is compromised of members of the Yezidi (Ezidi) ethnoreligious minority group, whom the so-called Islamic State targeted in a genocidal campaign after the terrorist organization’s rise to prominence in 2014. They are seen as close associates of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a group that has led a decades-long insurgency against Turkey for Kurdish rights.
“I saw eight dead bodies with my own eyes and there were multiple other wounded people,” a witness told Kurdistan 24.
A medical source in a Sinune hospital said, “A wounded man was taken to the hospital due to the severity of his wounds.”
Kurdistan 24 has learned that the attack was carried out by Turkish warplanes and that, along with commander Sardasht Shingal, also known as Khalaf Bapir Murad Saadoun, his brother, Ayman Saadoun, was killed as well.
“Five of the YBS forces were killed in an unknown aerial bombardment at 11:35 today, Wednesday, which targeted their vehicle in the Hattin community,” the Iraqi Security Media Cell said, but did not specify who conducted the strike. Turkey, however, has previously carried out such operations against the YBS for their alleged ongoing ties with the PKK. In March 2018, the PKK said it withdrew its forces from Shingal, handing over positions to the Iraqi army.
Read More: Turkish warplanes conduct strikes on Shingal: sources
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) in opening a safety corridor for Ezidis as the Islamic State took over Shingal.
Turkey also regularly carries out airstrikes in the Kurdistan Region’s border against alleged PKK positions. Due to the ongoing violence and clashes between the PKK and the Turkish military, hundreds of villages along the Turkish-Kurdistan border have been evacuated.
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Over the past few years, the KRG has repeatedly called on the PKK to stop using the region as a launchpad for its attacks against Turkish government forces.
Editing by John J. Catherine