An all-female Yazidi militia has reportedly declared that it wants to be on the front lines of a new operation against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in northern Iraq in an effort to avenge their fellow Yazidi women who have suffered atrocities at the hands of the jihadist group.
“We know that the people ISIS holds… are waiting for us to rescue them,” they added. “We will not stop until we liberate our women and take revenge.”
The Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a U.S. designated Marxist terrorist group operating out of Syria and Turkey, has created and trained the Sinjar Women’s Units (YJS), named after the Yazidi minority group’s homeland in northern Iraq, reports The Independent.
YJS fighters are expected to participate in the campaign to liberate the town of Tal Afar from ISIS, which is being led by the Iran-backed predominantly Shiite militia movement known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), in coordination with the male Yazidi fighter militia (YBS).
The autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has not welcomed the Shiite militias to its territory.
“While the Kurdish leaders are no friends of the Sunni insurgents, they are perhaps even more fearful of the presence of Shia militias so close to the Kurdistan Region’s borders,” noted Kurdish inter-party relations expert Gareth Stansfield.
According to The Independent, “The operation to retake Tal Afar is strategically crucial because the town lies between ISIS’s de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria, and Mosul, ISIS’s last major stronghold in Iraq, which is currently under assault by a US-backed coalition of Iraqi forces.”
“The [all-female Yazidi militia] YJS was created and trained by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) forces in 2015 to strengthen the Kurdish Peshmerga and male Yazidi fighter (YBS) presence against ISIS in and around Sinjar in the battle to retake the town,” notes The Independent. “Their sights are now focused on driving ISIS from southern Sinjar province and the nearby town of Tal Afar, military sources say.”
ISIS is still believed to be holding thousands of Yazidis captive, many of them women held in sexual bondage.
The United States and the United Nations has determined that the terrorist group has committed genocide against Yazidis and other ethnoreligious minorities in Iraq and Syria.
Yazidis are a minority group whose religion is a mix of Islam, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity. Members of the Islamic State, also known as IS, have accused the Yazidis of worshipping the devil and have embarked upon an extremely violent campaign against to eradicate their existence.
ISIS captured their homeland in KRG-controlled northern Iraq — the Sinjar district — when they seized large swathes of Iraq during its blitz across the country in the summer of 2014.
The presence of the PKK in northern Iraq has stirred mixed emotions among the Kurdish-majority population and the Yazidis.
Baris Ersoy, a research assistant at the Institute for National Security Studies, explained in July 2015:
The fact that the PKK… may be protecting the Kurds and the Yazidis from falling into IS’ hands does not negate the fact that they are terrorists. In fact, even in attempting to help Yazidis in Iraq, the PKK’s history precedes it, and the Kurdish government there has warned them not to stay. They are terrorists not because they want an independent Kurdistan, but because of their methodologies.
While the Kurdish Peshmerga, the KRG’s armed unit, reportedly retreated and abandoned the Yazidis in Sinjar during the ISIS takeover of large swathes of Iraq in the summer of 2014, PKK fighters played an essential role in fighting the terrorist group. The supposed move by the Peshmerga resulted in the death, rape, and enslavement of thousands of Yazidis.
Meanwhile, the PKK remained in the area, establishing makeshift refugee care centers that provide food, water, and even some schooling for children.
Despite the strained relationship between the KRG and the Yazidis, the Peshmerga are also training Yazidi women to combat ISIS.
“An estimated 10,000 women in total fight on the front lines as part of the Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq, which have been the most efficient ground troops in curbing the jihadis’ territorial expansion,” reports The Independent.
Earlier this year, some Yazidis, echoing the KRG, told Breitbart News that the damage to the infrastructure in Iraq’s Sinjar district and the threat that ISIS still poses to the region is preventing many Yazidis from returning home.