MESOP : KURDISH DISUNITY & THE SINJAR TAKE OVER BY PKK – Kurd Allies Fighting ISIS in North Iraq Hampered By Rivalries

2015-01-31- SINJAR, Iraq (AP) Syndicated News – – (…) The immediate issue is ownership of Sinjar, the town that once was home to many of Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority. The commander of peshmerga forces around Sinjar, Brig. Gen. Salam Warti, described the PKK and other militias as loose cannons unwilling to stick to an agreed strategic plan. He said they rushed into Sinjar too quickly last week, when the Kurdish regional government announced that its forces had wrested nearly a third of the town from IS forces. That boast proved short-lived as peshmerga troops retreated to the hills, and other Kurdish soldiers took refuge in the urban outskirts.

“We had planned to take the surrounding areas first and then take the town,” Warti told the Associated Press. “But they (allied militias) decided to show off and take a section of the town, and now we’re paying for it with many casualties. Militarily, it was a bad move.” Warti said allied fighters’ decision to maintain positions within the town was making it more difficult for coalition aircraft to distinguish friend from foe. “Peshmerga said: We will come on the 5th (of January), then 10th, and 20th, and we will liberate Sinjar. And it never happened,” said Marwan Shingali, a town native from the Sinjar Resistance. “You go to the front line. You will only find our comrades fighting.”On a peshmerga-held hill overlooking the town, some express confusion about exactly who their alliesare.

“We can’t identify them. We just call all of them PKK,” said Shalaw Hassan Abdullah, 26, a peshmerga soldier. “They all look the same. I don’t know who is who.” From Abdullah’s position behind a wall of sandbags, fighters fired occasional rounds at suspected IS positions in the town below Thursday. Contrary to the primitive weaponry used by fighters with the other Kurdish factions, the peshmerga front line is equipped with heavy machine guns and mortars. The night before featured intense fighting capped by airstrikes. As Abdullah spoke, another peshmerga fighter behind him fired a rocket that passed overhead, bound for the town. Men grabbed their binoculars to see the strike, but it overshot the target. “Pull it back a little or you’ll hit Mosul,” joked one fighter, referring to the Islamic State-held city 125 kilometers (75 miles) to the east. A second rocket salvo soon produced plumes of smoke rising from the town center.But atop the hill, Abdullah described the other fighters as outsiders with no credible claim.

“They (PKK) are new here,” he said.