Yazidi militias organized to fight the Islamic State in Sinjar, northern Iraq are protesting that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Marxist terrorist group operating out of Syria and Turkey, have prevented them from launching a mission to recapture Sinjar City after the terrorists stormed the region in 2014.
“The PKK is the main reason behind the delay of the Shingal operation,” Qasim Shesho, the head of the Yazidi forces organized to resist ISIS occupation in August 2014, told Rudaw, a Kurdish news outlet. “Let them go and save the Kurds in Syria and Turkey, but we will never let them gain power over Shingal,” he said of the PKK, adding that his forces “do not want to start a fight” with the PKK and “we all have one enemy,” but that the PKK’s desire to “claim that they liberate Shingal [Sinjar]” is hampering their efforts to actually do so.
Bas News, another Kurdish outlet, quotes a Peshmerga commander expressing the same reservations about the presence of the PKK in the region. Sme Bosali claims that his troops halted plans to rid the region of ISIS after a sudden, major move of PKK forces, along with Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ), into the region. The move, Bosali claims, prompted ISIS terrorists to litter the region with land mines and move elsewhere.
Shesho is also quoted in the Bas News article urging the PKK to leave, “because their assistance has never been required by the Yazidis.”
The Islamic State invaded Sinjar in summer 2014, killing thousands of its Yazidi population and forcing thousands of others to flee up Sinjar Mountain, where many died of starvation and thirst. In many cases, ISIS terrorists would split families, killing the men and forcing the women and girls into sex slavery. Before the ISIS invasion, there were up to 700,000 Yazidis living in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Representatives of the Yazidi population have filed a genocide case against the Islamic State before the International Criminal Court.
In August 2014, Shesho rose to prominence as the head of a Yazidi militia initially comprised of his male relatives, who refused to leave Sinjar to ISIS without a fight. Shesho had previous battle experience alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga against Saddam Hussein.
The current head of the Peshmerga, Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani, has also rejected the PKK’s presence in the region. The Peshmerga issued an official statement last week announcing that they will allow no other militias to participate in the liberation of Sinjar, stating that Barzani had already issued an order to both the PKK and YPG fighters to stay out of the region. Barzani, who has close ties to the Turkish government — the PKK’s main state enemy — has previously demanded the PKK evacuate Iraq and criticized the group’s relations with the Turkish government.
Masrour Barzani, son of the president and head of Kurdistan’s intelligence agency, echoed his father’s sentiments in August: “They should pull out and they must because the people of Sinjar will determine their own future and this is Iraqi Kurdistan. Would the PKK be happy if a Kurdish political party inside Iraq meddled in the affairs of Diyarbakir or Mardin?”
This week, Reuters reports that Iraqi Kurdish leaders report they have been blocked from fighting in the area by PKK forces. The PKK, meanwhile, complain that “we have been ready” to liberate Sinjar but have been blocked from action by the KRG, according to an unnamed commander. The Peshmerga forces have been actively working alongside American air support.
This week, Breitbart News published exclusive footage of ISIS operating freely around Sinjar Mountain. It is believed that ISIS controls about 90 percent of Sinjar City, though it has lost control of the northern half of the region.