Fear of Islamic State leads Iraqi Yezidis to form first military force

Yezidis formed first military force in northern Iraq to face IS threats. File photo

ARA News

Cologne, Germany – In an unprecedented step, prominent religious figures of the the Yezidi community in Iraq held a meeting last week in Shangal area near Mosul city, to discuss the initiative of forming a Yezidi armed force to protect this minority group against possible attacks by the Islamic State (IS, previously known as ISIL), which is in power in Mosul and other Iraq areas.

Yezidis are among the threatened religious minority groups in Iraq, especially with the growing power of the Islamic State and the latter’s announcement of Caliphate in some areas of Syria and Iraq.

The Yezidis’ project of forming an armed force was preceded by mass displacement of Christian families from the IS-held city of Mosul last week after receiving threats from IS militants. Thus, the Kurdish Yezidi community in the area apparently felt the serious danger on their existence and decided to take a preventative step.

Invited by Haydar Shisho, former Iraqi MP and member of the Central Council of the Kurdistani National Union, 400 notables of the different Yezidi families attended the meeting on Wednesday.

Speaking to ARA News, Shisho stated: “Following the recent attacks of extremist Islamic groups on the different Iraqi areas, we (Yezidis) realized the importance of forming a special military force to defend our land and people.”

“The decision is made, and more than one thousand volunteers of different ages showed up to join the newly established Yezidi military force; numbers are increasing,” Shisho said.

Shisho appealed to the Iraqi Central Government, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Kurdish Peshmerga forces to support Yazidis.

“We need to defend our land, especially those bordering terrorists-held areas (in reference to IS militants), starting from the Syrian borders till the borders of Tel Afar and al-Baj in northern Iraq,” Shisho told ARA News.

Salim al-Rashidani, researcher in Yezidi issues, commented on the matter saying: “The formation of a Yezidi armed force is very important to defend this minority group against terrorist groups.”

Al-Rashidani believes that Peshmerga’s weak support to Yezidis pushed them to take measures against potential future risks.

“Under the deteriorating security conditions in the region, and in the shadow of the apparent indifference among Kurdish Peshmerga army with regard to the situation of Yezidis, the step of forming such a military force was necessary,” al-Rashidani told ARA News.

Last June, al Qaeda splinter group of the Islamic State (IS) controlled the city of Mosul and other Iraqi areas following the withdrawal of the federal Iraqi forces.

Moreover, the Islamic State recently obliged Mosul Christians to choose between Islam and “paying toll”.

On Tuesday, IS also threatened Mosul Kurds of death in case of not leaving Mosul, which thrilled Yezidis in case IS militants reached their areas.


Reporting by: Ali Isso

Source: ARA News

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