Peshmerga: PKK is still in Sinjar, wearing Iraqi forces' uniforms

The Kurdistan Region's Undersecretary of the Ministry of Peshmerga, Sarbast Lazgin. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
The Kurdistan Region's Undersecretary of the Ministry of Peshmerga, Sarbast Lazgin. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Despite a recent agreement between Iraq's federal government and the autonomous Kurdistan Region to remove all armed militias from the disputed district of Sinjar (Shingal), fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are still present but now wear Iraqi security force uniforms, an official in the regional Peshmerga Ministry stated on Saturday.

The statement was made after Baghdad claimed that it had succeeded in implementing the Shingal Agreement after deploying federal and other police forces in the area, where it had lowered the flags of various armed groups, leaving only the Iraqi flag flown throughout in the district's largest city of the same name.

The Iraqi Joint Operations Command, which coordinates the nation's security forces, announced on Dec. 4 that Shingal was clear of all "armed manifestations" as a plan was implemented that would "normalize" the situation in the embattled area where multiple militias have been operating in recent years.

Read More: Baghdad declares Sinjar free of armed groups as joint plan with Erbil is carried out

Erbil and Baghdad agreed in October to restore stability to Shingal as part of an agreement aimed at removing the militias affiliated with the PKK and the mostly Iranian-backed militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Peshmerga Serbast Lazgin told Kurdistan 24 that the continued presence of PKK fighters within Sinja has exacerbated the security situation in the city, stressing, "The PKK is still there in Shingal."

Lazgin pointed out that some groups coordinate with the PKK to the extent that they sometimes change their uniforms and wear the uniforms of Iraqi armed groups, adding that these groups receive salaries from the Iraqi government, especially those associated with the PMF still dotted across the borders of Shingal.

The agreement, which is supported by multiple members of the international community, aims to remove all such groups from the city.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said on Wednesday evening that the agreement reached between Erbil and Baghdad regarding Shingal aims to prevent terrorist organizations from entering Iraqi lands and attempting to infiltrate the Kurdistan Region, and he indicated that this step is "crucial" for regional stability.

The PKK has been fighting a decades-long conflict with Ankara over Kurdish rights in Turkey. 

Duhok governor Ali Tatar on Sunday renewed calls for Turkish forces and PKK fighters to settle their disputes outside the Kurdistan Region’s borders. The statement came just over a week after Turkish shelling killed three civilians.

Read More: After Turkish shelling kills civilians in Duhok, official calls on Turkey, PKK to fight elsewhere

Clashes and bombardment between Turkey and the PKK that have occurred within the Kurdistan Region in recent years have resulted in the displacement of thousands from farming villages throughout mountainous border areas.

Editing by John J. Catherine