Ezidi Peshmerga, Hashd al-Shaabi agree to peacefully hand over Shingal
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – On Tuesday, the Iranian-backed Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi militia and Iraqi Forces entered the Yezidi-city (Ezidi) of Sinjar (Shingal), west of the Kurdistan Region.
Both Iraqi Forces and the militia group have entered the center of Shingal from the southern front early Tuesday morning, a Kurdistan 24 correspondent reported.
Clashes erupted between Peshmerga and the Iraqi security forces on the eastern fronts of Shingal, he added.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Peshmerga Command for the western Tigris front claimed the protection of Shingal and surrounding Ezidi areas was under the umbrella of the Ezidi Peshmerga forces, which boast a force of 8,000 soldiers.
The statement mentioned that the Ezidi Peshmerga Commander had agreed with Ezidis who are part of the Hashd al-Shaabi to let the militia enter the city without any fighting and bloodshed.
The Islamic State (IS) overran Shingal in August 2014 as they emerged in the northern Iraq in June of the same year. Peshmerga Forces with the help of the US-led coalition warplanes liberated the city in November 2015.
On Monday, both Iraqi Forces and the Shiite militias took control of the city of Kirkuk, which has been under the protection of the Peshmerga Forces since mid-2014 after the Iraqi army collapsed and failed to defend the city from the threats of the jihadist group.
Tensions have significantly escalated between Erbil and Baghdad following the Sep. 25 referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region.
The federal government has imposed a set of punitive measures and sanctions on the Kurdistan Region for holding the independence vote.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has repeatedly called for peaceful dialogue with the Federal Government of Iraq to resolve the dispute, while Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi insists on the cancellation of the referendum's results as a pre-condition to initiate talks.
Editing by G.H. Renaud