US official says ‘PKK has no place on battlefield’ in Sinjar

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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

US State Department spokesperson Mark C. Toner said that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has no place on the ‘battlefield’ in the Yezidi district of Sinjar, in northern Iraq.

“We understand some of the tensions on the ground with respect to, for example, the PKK, that we believe has no place on the battlefield and we consider to be a foreign terrorist organization,” Mark C. Toner told reporters in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Small clashes took place between forces affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) on 3 March, in which 7 PKK-affiliated fighters were killed. Since then disputes continued, but clashes stopped after negotiations.

“There have been discussions between the Government of Iraq and the KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government] with respect to western Nineveh, which is the area west of Sinjar – area around Sinjar to the west,” Toner said.

“Those discussions have focused generally on how to build stability in that particular region along the border with Syria that’s been liberated from ISIS. We’ve talked a lot about some of the complex battlespaces,” he added.

“So there’s these ongoing efforts to address some of these tensions, better coordinate in the aftermath of when we liberate these areas or when the Iraqi Government and Iraqi Security Forces liberate these areas. I can say we’re very much aware of it and we’re in discussions on how to best deal with that,” he stated.

On Monday, Brett McGurk, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS met with Iraqi Kurdistan’s President Masoud Barzani to discuss the recent developments.

“Brett McGurk was just obviously in the region in the last couple of days, but we’re always in discussions with Turkey, with Iraq, and with all the players in Iraq, including Kurdish forces, about how to de-escalate tensions between these different groups with the recognition that we don’t want this to escalate in any way, need to keep the focus on what everyone’s main goal should be, which is defeating ISIS,” McGurk said.

On Tuesday morning, the PKK brought thousands of civilians from northern Syria (Rojava) and villages around Sinjar to protest against the KDP, in which protestors were injured allegedly by gunfire by the KDP’s security forces.

Both the KDP and the PKK call on each other to leave Sinjar.

The PKK leader Cemil Bayik on Monday called on the KDP to withdraw it’s forces. “KDP should withdraw their forces in Shengal immediately. All Kurds should demand this from the KDP,” he said, adding that the Sinjar region should be ruled by its own administration [PKK-linked].

“The issue of Shingal [Sinjar]and the Êzidîs [Yezidis] is not a party matter. It is a matter for all Kurdistan and all of humanity. To this end, all of humanity and the Kurds should protect the Êzidîs so they can govern and defend themselves,” Bayik said. “This will serve the KDP, Southern Kurdistan, other areas and humanity.”

This while the KDP asked the PKK and it’s affiliated forces to leave Sinjar.

“The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) wishes to start rebuilding Shingal as soon as possible, but the presence of the fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the region has become a problem that made the Kurdistan Regional Government unable to work seriously enough in this regard,” Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said on Monday.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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