Kurdish infighting - Peshmerga and Yezidis VS PKK in Sinjar

With ISIS gone, new fights simmer in Shingal

Shingal Region – The brutal fighters of the Islamic State, or ISIS, have been nearly run out of Shingal, but the region is still far from safe.

That’s the message Qassim Shesho, leader of one of the active local Yezidi militias, is sending forth from his home near the religious minority’s second-most holy temple of Sharfadeen.

That message was also delivered by armed Yezidis, who threatened and attacked Arab civilians and told them to leave. Shesho denied his militia was involved: “They were not my men.”

Shesho, who is aligned with and supported by the biggest party in Iraqi Kurdistan, the ruling KDP, puts the blame on the other militia active in the area: fighters of the PKK, who are based in mountain camps along the Turkish border.

When the Peshmerga guarding the area in August melted away after ISIS overran it, PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan – Apo to his followers - sent fighters. They played a major role in pushing back ISIS, and currently in the fight against the extremists in the capital Shingal.

The PKK flag flies from the checkpoint on the only recaptured road leading to Shingal, across the mountain range with the same name. Here PKK commander Shavkar is in charge.

“Apo said we should go and help the Yezidis. We fight daesh everywhere: in Syria, Iraq or wherever.”

The commander adds that the PKK is helping the Yezidis build an army of their own, the United Forces of Shingal, the competitor for Shesho’s militia. This force, he said, is meant to help them look after their own safety, he says.

“They trust us. If they say we must stay, we will,” he said, adding that elections will eventually show this. “Then it will be their democratic choice.”

Inhabitants of an informal refugee camp nearer to Shingal, which houses some 2,000 families, have declared loyalty to the PKK. Men and children surround community leader Amar Sharoburo, who agreed to speak for them.

“Only the PKK helps us. They are strangers, but they came to help us. They have promised to stay as long as it takes. And as long as ISIS still has Mosul and Anbar province, we will not be safe,” he said.

Shesho is none too happy about the presence of PKK fighters, whom he calls terrorists.

“Why don’t they stay in their own country? They don’t have the right to be here.”

He even calls their presence harmful for the Yezidis: “They are presently destroying Shingal.”

Yezidis fear a repeat of the situation in the Syrian town of Kobane, where the PKK’s Syrian faction fought successfully against ISIS, but at the same time turned the city into rubble.

Shesho fears the PKK will not leave his area. He predicts the next battle is already in the making.

“When daesh has finally gone, we will be fighting against the terrorists of the PKK.”


Kurdish News channel: