Pro-PKK group in Sinjar rejects PKK exit, demands Peshmerga withdrawal from Yezidi region

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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

The Self-Administration of the Yezidis district of Sinjar (Shingal) refused demands by the Kurdistan Regional Government of northern Iraq (KRG) to remove the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from Sinjar.

The Sinjar local council said on Tuesday that they can no longer trust the Peshmerga forces “that fled and left the Yezidis in front of a massacre by ISIS.”

“We believe that the entry of ISIS to Iraq, especially to the province of Nineveh, was a conspiracy agreed by local and international parties, with the aim of establishing a Sunni region in exchange for facilitating the self-determination of the Kurdistan region of Iraq,” the PKK-linked council said in a statement.

“The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) [Iraqi Kurdistan’s ruling party] was a partner in this plot, especially in the areas of the Yezidis, as evidenced by the withdrawal of the entire protection forces of Peshmerga and the rest of the security services without resistance and simultaneously with the entry of the ISIS terrorists,” the organization said.

The PKK commander Murat Karayilan announced, on 5 August 2014, the need to send PKK forces to Shingal (Sinjar) to save the Yezidis. Nevertheless, the Yezidis were massacred in August 2014, the Sinjar council said.

But now the Turkish government and the KDP are demanding the withdrawal of the PKK after clashes between KDP- and PKK-affiliated groups on 3 March, 2017, and the Turkish air strikes on 25 April.

“Here we would like to assure for the whole world that without the intervention of the PKK forces in a timely manner and the rescue of the Yezidis, none of the Yezidis would survive,” the council said about the entry of PKK and People’s Protection Units (YPG), who opened a corridor from Syria to Sinjar to save Yezidis.

“Therefore, the only force that has proved its credibility and humanity in protecting us are the PKK forces, which came to our rescue when all abandoned us,” the council added.

The Sinjar council called on the international community not to listen to Turkey and president Barzani’s KDP, and to support the establishment of a self-administration in the Sinjar region, as a decentralized province linked to the Iraqi federal government.

The council said if an international protection is provided, it would be possible to demand the withdrawal of the PKK from Sinjar. “Then we will demand the withdrawal of PKK troops from Sinjar after thanking them for their sacrifices and saving us from genocide,” it said.

Moreover, the council called on the Iraqi government not to negotiate with the Kurdistan region on issues related to Yezidis and also called on the KRG to withdraw their Peshmerga forces.

On 25 April, as a result of Turkish airstrikes targeting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on and around Mt. Sinjar in northern Iraq, and the People’s Protection Units’ (YPG) base in Qarashox in northeastern Syria, five Peshmerga soldiers and over 18 Kurdish YPG fighters were killed.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Kurdish government officials then called on the PKK to leave the Sinjar region.

“This painful and unacceptable attack on Peshmerga forces by Turkish warplanes is a result of PKK’s presence in and around Sinjar. PKK has been problematic for the people of the Kurdistan Region and, despite broad calls to withdraw, refuses to leave Sinjar,” the Ministry of Peshmerga in Iraqi Kurdistan said in late April.

“We call on the PKK to withdraw from Mt. Sinjar and surrounding areas. PKK must stop destabilizing and escalating tensions in the area to allow life to return to the people of the area,” the MoP added.

On 3 March, clashes broke out between KDP-linked and PKK-linked fighters in the Yezidi district of Sinjar in northern Iraq. At least 7 PKK-affiliated fighters were reported dead in the clashes. This led to severe tensions between the PKK and the KDP in both Syria and Iraq.

“I strongly condemn Turkish air strikes killing 5 Peshmerga and wounding nine others PKK must leave Kurdistan Region to avoid such tragedies,” KRG foreign relations head Falah Mustafa said at the time.

The KDP has called on the PKK to leave Sinjar, while the PKK says they are building a local self-administration for the Yezidis and that there are joint plans by Turkey and KDP to ‘attack the Yezidis’.

“They [KDP] are afraid of the system in Shingal [Sinjar], it’s a model,” a PKK official in Slemani told ARA News. “The Yezidis have their own self-administration, system, and party,” he said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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