ERBIL (Kurdistan24) – A local official in the Yezidi (Ezidi)-majority city of Sinjar on Friday accused the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of committing abuses, saying the group was imposing arbitrary laws on residents and discouraging the return of displaced people.
The PKK has large numbers of fighters and bases throughout parts of northern Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, near the border with Turkey. In 2014, following the Islamic State’s brutal onslaught on the Ezidi community, the outlawed group formed a local offshoot among the minority group under the name of the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS).
The PKK trained and armed the YBS to fight the terrorist organization and are currently thought to be allied with the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias. The YBS are believed to have a force of about 5,000, including male and female fighters.
The latest claim against the PKK and its affiliate comes days after the Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF) announced it had suspended operations in Sinjar (Shingal) because the group was hindering their humanitarian work and recently arrested the head of its representative office in the city.
“The PKK is committing violations and abuses against the people of Shingal and the staff of the municipal councils there. It is imposing strange laws,” Shingal Mayor Mahma Khalil said in a statement on Friday.
Khalil called on the Iraqi government “to help the city and cooperate with the people of the region to expel elements of the [PKK] party in any way it can.”
Stating his readiness to cooperate with Baghdad, the mayor stated that the return of Ezidis to their homeland requires “the formation of joint forces of the Iraqi army and Peshmerga forces”
“This cooperation will make the federal government reap the benefits of its work and achieve its goal of enforcing the law in this oppressed district [Shingal].”
Following the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq in 2014, the Ezidi religious minority suffered heavily at the hands of the Islamic State, which committed horrific acts, including mass executions against the people.
Khalil also warned of the growing terrorist threat a few short kilometers south of Shingal, saying “the [national] army must seal the border,” and the Hashd al-Shaabi must “leave the cities and rush towards the [district of] Ba’aj to clear it of Da’esh terrorist cells that started to grow there.”
Amid security concerns and with nothing but flattened homes to return to, many Ezidis are yet to return to Shingal, a region disputed between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the central Iraqi government.
Editing by Nadia Riva