PKK to withdraw from Yezidi district of Sinjar at request of Iraqi Kurdistan: official

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Members of the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), a militia affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), stand in the village of Umm al-Dhiban, in northern Iraq. File photo: Reuters

ARA News

Shingal – The acting leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Murat Karayilan, said on Friday that their fighters are prepared to withdraw from the Yezidi district of Sinjar/Shingal in northern Iraq, at the request of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

“We have informed the KRG that our fighters will soon complete their withdrawal from Sinjar,” Karayilan said.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has repeatedly called on the PKK and its affiliated militias to leave Sinjar.

The PKK’s acting leader and co-founder Murat Karayilan stressed the importance of resolving any internal Kurdish issues “through dialogue”, saying that his party believes in the principle of unity among the Kurds regardless of political differences.

There are several PKK-affiliated militias in Sinjar District. The largest of them is the Shingal Resistance Units (YBŞ), which fought to liberate Sinjar and al-Hawl and is currently engaged in the campaign to liberate Mosul.

Nechirvan Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, has earlier blamed the PKK for the slow pace of reconstruction in Sinjar city. “One of the reasons Sinjar can’t be rebuilt and the population can’t return home is the PKK presence. We thank them but they must leave,” he said at a conference in Duhok.

The US State Department has also demanded the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and its affiliates to withdraw from the Yezidi-majority Sinjar District.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party established a presence in Sinjar in August 2014, advancing across the Syrian border to save thousands of Yezidis, who were abandoned by the Peshmerga. PKK guerrillas then fought a three-day-long battle against Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists to establish a humanitarian corridor into Mount Sinjar.

Since then, the PKK has recruited local Yezidis into the YBŞ and created a local council for Sinjar. These actions have raised concerns in Erbil, prompting the Kurdistan Democratic Party to vie for influence in Sinjar District.

So far both sides have maintained a strong presence in Sinjar, in addition to the Protection Force of Ezidkhan (HPE), an indigenous militia led by Haydar Shesho. The HPE have fought alongside both the Peshmerga and the YBŞ against ISIS and maintains a training camp in Duhola.

Reporting by: Qehreman Miste | Source: ARA News 

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