Kurdish female fighters launch operation in Iraq to avenge enslaved Yezidi women

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Kurdish Yezidi fighters of the YBS/YJS in Shingal, northern Iraq. File photo

ARA News

Erbil – The Shingal Women’s Units (YJS), an all-female Kurdish militia, announced on Saturday they will launch an operation to “avenge Yezidi women” and save those women held in bondage. The YJS is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“We have not forgotten those Yezidi women sold in [the slave] markets of Mosul or burnt alive,” the YJS leadership said. “We know that the people ISIS holds […] are waiting for us to rescue them. We will not stop until we liberate our women and take revenge.”

According to military sources, the Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) –including the YJS– are mustering their forces and will soon start an operation to capture southern Shingal District.

When Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists attacked the Iraqi Yezidi communities in August 2014, they raped and forcibly married the thousands of young women they captured in an orgy of violence. They also converted their female captures to their own brand of Sunni Islam and sold them in slave markets across their would-be Caliphate. ISIS is still holding a significant number of sex slaves, according to Belkis Wille, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

The YBS is part of a coalition which aims to expel ISIS from the town of Tel Afar, which is located in northern Iraq, east of Shingal. The coalition was founded in late October and is principally led by Shia Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).

The PMU want to take Tel Afar in order to cut the roads between Raqqa city and Mosul city, preventing ISIS jihadists from escaping into Syria. The YBS have indicated that they may also intervene in Tel Afar since ISIS reportedly holds Yezidi captives in the Turkmen-majority town.

Operations in Tel Afar and Shingal could increase tensions between Baghdad and Ankara. Turkey opposes the presence of PKK-aligned militias in Shingal and also rejects any move by Shia PMU fighters towards Tel Afar.

Both Turkey and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) fear that Shiite militias might cooperate with the PKK to create a corridor between Iraq and Syria. However, the PKK and the Shia PMU have said that they are fighting to defeat the Islamic State and to safeguard Yezidis, not to create corridors.

According to Gareth Stansfield, a British academic and expert on Kurdish interparty relations, Tel Afar presents an ongoing problem for the KDP. “While the Kurdish leaders are no friends of the Sunni insurgents, they are perhaps even more fearful of the presence of Shia militias so close to the Kurdistan Region’s borders,” he wrote.

“Another problem for the KDP, in particular, is that the possible entry of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party into the conflict, which would constitute a clear and present danger that would have to be removed,” Stanfield added.

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said last Thursday that Turkey will not allow a PKK presence in Shingal District, and in reference to the PMU, warned Baghdad against deploying elements “foreign to Mosul and Tel Afar.”

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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